Light-bodied white with moderate fruit intensity. Notes of lime, lemon, and grapefruit mixed with tarragon, sage, and jasmine. Not overly acidic. High alcohol content at 14.5%. Beautiful pale yellow color in glass. Ready to drink now.
ABV may be too high for some seeking a light white.
Terrific value for balanced sauvignon blanc that doesn't overpower with acidity or fruit. Bright, crisp, and refreshing, with notes of grass, peach, lime, and white flowers. Enjoy with meals or by itself.
Lacks fruit intensity some may want in a summer white.
Old World sauvignon blanc that leads with grapefruit, lemon, and green apple. Hints of mineral, stone, and honey. Dry and light-to-medium bodied with 13% ABV. Pairs well with vegetarian meals, pork, and seafood.
High price. Some drinkers may want a lighter bottle.
California white that is partially barrel fermented, resulting in a richness and creaminess rarely found in sauvignon blanc. Bright color with hints of green. Citrus and floral aromas with green fruit flavors. Drink now or save through 2025.
Slight oak taste and creaminess may be off-putting for casual sauvignon blanc lovers.
Flavorful white that leads with gooseberry and passionfruit and features notes of other tropical and stone fruit. Hints of grass and herbs. Can be enjoyed now or saved for a few years. Versatile bottle that pairs with lots of meals. Great value for the price.
Very popular and familiar pick may not impress those seeking something different from their sauvignon blanc.
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Accessible, varied, and unquestionably refreshing, sauvignon blanc is a worthy white wine choice time and time again. This light white wine is often enjoyed in warm weather, and rightly so, but its versatility makes it a drink for all seasons and occasions, and it pairs well with plenty of meals and snacks.
Like many beloved wines, sauvignon blanc traces its lineage back some 500 years ago to France. Specifically, it hails from the Loire Valley. Derived from the French word meaning “wild,” sauvignon blanc tends to evoke sunshine, pastures, and nature at its most beautiful. Its look, aroma, and taste involve spring and summer fruits, vegetables, herbs, and sensations.
Sauvignon blanc is greatly loved by many white wine enthusiasts, but there is much for red wine drinkers to embrace as well, as more similarities exist between the two than you might think. This guide explores the defining traits of sauvignon blanc, including characteristics that are unique and some that change from region to region.
Generally, sauvignon blanc shares the following properties. Depending on the region in which it made, some of these characteristics may trend slightly toward one direction or the other.
Acidity: Expect high acidity count in sauvignon blanc. This gives the wine a zesty or spritzy taste and feel. You should detect a bit of a tingly feeling on the sides and front of your tongue.
Tannins: Sauvignon blanc lacks tannins, and thus, it lacks bitterness. You won’t experience the dry feeling in your mouth that tends to come with most reds, for example.
Dryness: Most sauvignon blanc is completely dry, lacking sweetness. For many, this makes it an easy wine to enjoy. Certain regions and countries where sauvignon blanc are popular may leave a bit of sugar in the wine for a slight sweetness. You may find residual sugar in selections from California and New Zealand.
Alcohol content: Most sauvignon blanc falls in the average range of wine alcohol content, from 11.5% to 13.5% ABV. The high end is less common for whites. Those with a higher ABV may taste bold, while those with a lower ABV should have a lighter taste.
Body: An easy-drinking wine, sauvignon blanc generally has a light to medium body. Body is determined by the aforementioned characteristics and represents the overall makeup of a bottle.
Melon, citrus, and berries make up the predominant tasting notes of sauvignon blanc. The five most dominant and common notes are gooseberry, green melon, grapefruit, passionfruit, and white peach. You may also find nectarine, green apple, and kiwi. Sauvignon aromas are herbal by and large, with scents of grass, tarragon, green peppers, and celery. These are by no means exclusive: pear, lime pea shoots, beeswax, and jasmine flowers are also detectable in some bottles. While you may find some earthy notes, like soil, flint, tobacco, or smoke, most often you won’t smell or taste anything rich or smooth like vanilla, cream, or butter.
Sauvignon blanc is made around the world, most notably in France and New Zealand. The United States, specifically California and Washington, also produce a lot of sauvignon blanc, as do Chile, South Africa, Australia, Spain, and Italy. If you’re partial to a particular country based on your other wine preferences, you may want to start in a similar spot when trying out sauvignon blanc.
Those made in France and around Europe are typically referred to as “Old World” wines, while those made in Australia, New Zealand, California, Chile, and South Africa are considered “New World” wines.
If you like the full-bodied red cabernet sauvignon, the most popular varietal in the world, you may like sauvignon blanc, too. It’s one of the two so-called parent vines of cabernet sauvignon.
The aroma and taste of sauvignon blanc differs not just by country but also by region. Climate plays a major role in determining the primary flavors. Typically, French sauvignon blanc has a lighter body with high acidity and citrus notes. In New Zealand, where sauvignon blanc is the most planted grape, the wine trends closer to a medium body with notes of green fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, Chilean sauvignon blanc features green fruits and grass notes.
Value-priced and high-end sauvignon blanc are both made in South Africa, where the latter may include notes of jasmine and honeysuckle. In Napa, California, you’ll find medium-bodied, balanced bottles that may taste of melon and white peach. Up north in Washington state, sauvignon blanc is lighter in body and features lime, grapefruit, and mineral flavors.
Sauvignon blanc is a versatile complement to a variety of meals. Due to its floral nature, it is worthwhile to enjoy with any meal featuring herbal sauce or green spice, especially those found on chicken, pasta, and tofu dishes. It is particularly well-suited to Vietnamese and Thai food. Sauvignon pairs well with lighter meat dishes, like chicken, salmon, and seafood. Similarly, it matches well with light, soft cheeses, especially those from Mediterranean regions. Sauvignon blanc is also a terrific companion for any number of zesty, light salads and vegetables, especially those topped with dill, cilantro, chives, basil, and garlic.
Most sauvignon blanc, like most white wine, is made in stainless steel barrels. This produces an unoaked sauvignon blanc, but the process is so prevalent and assumed that it’s rare anyone would ever preface a sauvignon blanc by describing it as unoaked. This qualifier is found more commonly with chardonnay. However, some winemakers do age sauvignon blanc in oak barrels, and the practice is slowly gaining steam. These creations are creamier and richer than unoaked varieties and may be mixed with other whites. Connoisseurs who enjoy sauvignon blanc and want to seek out something unique should keep an eye out for barrel-aged options.
Wine notes can be diverse, specific, and even downright odd. Famously, or infamously, sauvignon blanc has sometimes included the phrase “cat pee” as a tasting note, which some regard in a positive light.
Corkscrew: HiCoup Kitchenware Corkscrew
While an increasing number of white wines are made with screw caps, some are still corked, and it’s important to have a corkscrew like this one from HiCoup Kitchenware around in case you need it.
Wine cooler: Koldfront Freestanding Wine Cooler
Sauvignon blanc, among other whites and even some reds, is best served below room temperature. We recommend this wine cooler from Koldfront that offers different temperature zones depending on your needs.
Wine chiller: Wine Enthusiast Double-Walled Wine Chiller
Keep your bottle properly cooled once opened with a wine chiller. We love this elegant option from Wine Enthusiast that doesn’t require any ice and still shows off the bottle.
Wine glass set: Schott Zwiesel Forte White Wine Glasses
Make sure you have the proper glass to get the most out of your wine. We recommend this set of eight stemmed white wine glasses that comes at a solid price from Schott Zwiesel.
Sauvignon blanc is the progenitor of many lesser-known quality wines. For those who like sauvignon blanc and want new tastes, check out chenin blanc, verdelho, or grüner veltliner.
Inexpensive: You can find decent bottles of sauvignon blanc from large vineyards, particularly those in the United States, for $20 or less.
Mid-range: Most quality sauvignon blanc costs between $20 and $40. These hail from all around the world and offer a spectrum of aromatic and tasting notes.
Expensive: Spending over $40 will earn you a high-end bottle of sauvignon blanc, including those aged in oak barrels.
Q. How should sauvignon blanc be stored and served?
A. Keep your sauvignon blanc chilled to around 46°F before serving. If you don’t have space for long-term storage, put a bottle in a fridge for about a half hour (or the freezer for around 10 minutes) to bring it down to the desired temperature. Sauvignon blanc doesn’t need to be decanted unless you’re drinking oak-aged wine, but it should be served in a wine chiller to keep it cool.
Serve sauvignon blanc in a white wine glass that can preserve the tart taste and floral and citrus aromas. Fill to the widest part of the glass, pouring the bottle from about an inch above. Twist and lift at the end to prevent drips.
Q. Where does the best sauvignon blanc come from?
A. As with most questions about what is better or worse when it comes to wine, the answer differs depending on personal taste. Every country, region, and even vineyard will make a different bottle, and as such, sauvignon blanc is widely varied. It’s important to experiment and figure out what you like. You can find many bottles at a reasonable or value price, so it may be worth taking chances and trying new bottles as well.
Q. Does sauvignon blanc age well?
A. Unless a bottle of sauvignon blanc has been aged in an oak barrel, there is little need or desire to age the bottle. Wines age well when they are fermented with grape skins, which increases the amount of tannins and helps improve the taste and complexity over time. After five to seven years, your sauvignon blanc may take a downward trend, and it’s unlikely that waiting even a couple of years would change it much for the better. However, some siblings of sauvignon blanc, like chenin blanc, may last a decade and develop some interesting characteristics.
In short, there is no need to wait on sauvignon blanc. You can (and should) enjoy it immediately.
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