Sauvignon Blanc Wine Taste Profile
Last Updated on May 5, 2023.
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Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape variety that is most often used to produce dry white wines. Light and refreshing, it’s unique in that its flavor sets it apart from most other white grape varieties.
Sauvignon Blanc is famously used as part of the blend for making the sweet dessert wine in Bordeaux, called Sauternes.
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Although the climate and terroir for Sauvignon Blanc grown throughout the world can have a huge impact on flavor, there are some general commonalities.
Sauvignon Blanc tasting notes are most commonly associated with tropical, tree, and citrus fruit. Specifically, flavor nuances of dates, papaya, melon, and notes of herbs or dry underbrush are most present when the wine comes from a cooler climate.
If exposed to oak, you may notice bits of English pudding, custard, and vanilla. While it’s probably most well known for being the preferred white wine grape variety in the Bordeaux region of France and the Loire Valley – New World wine-growing regions such as Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Marlborough New Zealand are producing incredible Sauvignon Blanc as well. Classic fruit notes include melon, lemon-lime, white peach, grapefruit, orange, and papaya with notes of grass, geranium, green pepper, spice, and smoke.
Is Sauvignon Blanc considered a dry wine?
Often characterized by its lively acidity and vibrant flavors, Sauvignon Blanc is indeed considered a dry wine. That means it typically has little to no residual sugar, leaving your palate refreshed and craving more.
As you sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to the tasting notes we mentioned above, you’ll likely be greeted by flavors of citrus, gooseberry, and sometimes even grassy or herbal notes. It’s these crisp, tantalizing characteristics that make Sauvignon Blanc a go-to choice for many when seeking a wine that pairs beautifully with light dishes, seafood, warm afternoons, and good company.
Speaking of pairings…
Sauvignon Blanc variety pairs incredibly well with sushi. The light, crisply refreshing tropical fruits, and subtle herbs play well with fish crafted with similar toppings and sauces. Your fish doesn’t need to be raw, though. We recently had a beautiful New World Sauvignon Blanc with crisp oysters drizzled with spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico. It’s also worth sampling alongside lemon-butter scallops or steamed mussels.
When drinking a Sauvignon Blanc that’s been aged in oak, try something a bit heavier to accent the vanilla creme and toasted flavors. Grilled chicken with grilled veggies, chicken Francaise, or lemon-lime cilantro cream mahi-mahi (or swordfish) will pair nicely.
The Serving & Storage of Sauvignon Blanc
Serving and storing Sauvignon Blanc wines the right way can greatly enhance your tasting experience, ensuring that you fully appreciate the vibrant flavors and aromas of this delightful white wine. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Sauvignon Blanc:
The ideal serving temperature for Sauvignon Blanc is between 45°F and 50°F (7°C and 10°C). Chilling the wine at this temperature range accentuates its refreshing acidity and crisp flavors. To achieve the perfect temperature, you can refrigerate the bottle for about 2 hours before serving or use a wine cooler to maintain the desired temperature.
Sauvignon Blanc is best enjoyed in a white wine glass with a narrow bowl and slightly tapered top. This shape helps concentrate the wine’s delicate aromas and directs the wine to the appropriate areas of the palate, ensuring that you can fully appreciate its lively flavors and refreshing acidity.
To maintain the quality and freshness of your Sauvignon Blanc, it’s important to store the wine properly. Keep the bottles in a cool, dark place, such as a wine cellar or a temperature-controlled wine refrigerator. The ideal storage temperature for most white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, is around 45°F to 55°F (7°C to 13°C). It’s also crucial to store the wine away from direct sunlight or strong artificial light, as prolonged exposure can damage the wine.
When storing Sauvignon Blanc or any wine with a natural cork, it’s essential to store the bottles horizontally. This keeps the cork moist and prevents it from drying out, which could lead to oxidation and spoilage of the wine.
This grape variety can grow in both cool and warm climates within a variety of soil compositions. That makes it a bit complex. For instance, in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is drastically affected by the type of soil it’s grown in.
“Thicker,” more dense soil compositions tend to bring out more earth and herbal flavors, while “thinner,” more aerated soils tend to produce less herbaceous and more tropical Sauvignon Blanc.
Compound these soil variations with different climates and this grape variety gets even more intricate. Cooler climates also bring out more earth, herb, and citrus, while warmer climates bring out more tropical and tree fruit flavors.
Excessive warmth during the growing season can force these late budding, early ripening grapes to over-ripen. Over-ripe Sauvignon Blanc will lack aromatics, acid, and depth of flavor.
Most Sauvignon Blancs are meant to be enjoyed soon after release but a variety of factors can contribute to age-worthiness. Sauternes, the Sauvignon Blanc blend from Bordeaux, can age for decades due to the high sugar and acidity levels. Some Bordeaux Blancs are also age-worthy, though they are also blends. Oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs like the one produced by Merry Edwards can also age for several years.
Sustainable & Organic Sauvignon Blanc Production
Sustainability and organic practices have gained significant importance in the wine industry, and Sauvignon Blanc production has been embracing these values as well. Environmentally conscious consumers can find wineries that prioritize eco-friendly methods and organic farming, aiming to minimize their impact on the environment while producing high-quality wines.
Organic vineyards, for instance, avoid synthetic chemical inputs like pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. They rely on natural alternatives such as compost, cover crops, and biodynamic preparations to maintain soil health and fertility. These practices help promote biodiversity, protect beneficial insects, and encourage a balanced ecosystem.
Integrated pest management is another approach adopted by some wineries. This method focuses on monitoring and managing pests using a combination of biological, cultural, and chemical practices. By minimizing the use of chemical treatments, these vineyards can reduce their environmental footprint and protect the surrounding ecosystem.
Water conservation is a crucial aspect of sustainable wine production. Wineries may implement techniques such as drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and the use of drought-tolerant cover crops to optimize water usage and reduce waste.
Furthermore, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources are becoming more prevalent in wine production. Solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient equipment help wineries reduce their carbon emissions and reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
Sustainable packaging and waste management practices are gaining traction among wineries making Sauvignon Blanc as well. Lightweight bottles, recycled materials, and eco-friendly packaging solutions minimize waste and lower the environmental impact of wine production.
- Clos des Lunes, “Lune d’Argent,” Bordeaux, France
- Château Suduiraut, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
- Domaine Vacheron, “Le Paradis,” Sancerre, Loire, France
- Beautiful, Canterbury, New Zealand
- Zephyr, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Merry Edwards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
- Honig, North Coast, California
Similar Wines to Sauvignon Blanc
For those who enjoy the crisp and refreshing flavors of Sauvignon Blanc, there are several other white grape varieties that offer similar characteristics and delightful tasting experiences. Here are a few suggestions for wine lovers looking to explore wines akin to Sauvignon Blanc:
Often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, particularly in Bordeaux, Semillon shares some similar flavor profiles. Semillon wines tend to be slightly more rounded and may exhibit flavors of lemon, green apple, and sometimes honey or lanolin, depending on the wine’s age and region.
Originating from Spain, particularly the Rueda region, Verdejo wines are known for their fresh and zesty character. These wines typically feature notes of citrus, green apple, and tropical fruits, along with a subtle herbaceous quality that can be reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc.
Hailing from the Galicia region in northwest Spain, Albariño wines are celebrated for their high acidity and refreshing nature. They often display flavors of citrus, green apple, and stone fruits, complemented by a distinctive saline minerality that adds complexity and depth.
This Austrian grape variety produces wines with bright acidity and a similar herbaceous quality to Sauvignon Blanc. Gruner Veltliner wines often present flavors of green apple, citrus, and white pepper, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a zesty and intriguing white wine.
Primarily grown in Italy, particularly in Sardinia and Tuscany, Vermentino wines are known for their crisp, refreshing character. These wines typically exhibit flavors of citrus, green apple, and pear, along with a pleasant minerality and sometimes a slightly bitter almond finish.
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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Tropical, Tree & Citrus (Fig, Melon, Lemon-Lime, White Peach, Dates, Raisin, Orange, Papaya, Grapefruit)
- Oaked Sauvignon Blanc: English Pudding, Vanilla Custard, Toast
Earth & Mineral Notes
Underbrush, Crushed Clay, Dry Herbs
Tumbleweed, Fresh Cut Grass, Geranium, Fresh Can of Tennis Balls, Smoke, White Asian Spice, Green Bell Pepper
Structure & Body
Alcohol Medium-Plus (12.5%-14.5% ABV)
Finish Finish: Bright, Medium
Fish, Sushi, Shell Fish, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Vegetables
This grape variety pairs incredibly well with sushi. The light, crisply refreshing tropical fruits and subtle herbs play well with fish crafted with similar toppings and sauces. Your fish doesn't need to be raw, though. We recently had a beautiful New World Sauvignon Blanc with crisp oysters drizzled with spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico. It's also worth sampling along side lemon-butter scallops or steamed mussels. If you're drinking a Sauvignon Blanc that's been aged in oak, try something a bit heavier to accent the vanilla creme and toasted flavors. Grilled chicken with grilled veggies, chicken francaise, or lemon-lime cilantro cream mani mahi (or swordfish) will pair nicely.