Sauvignon Blanc, alongside Madonna and Meryl Streep, is a household name, but is this popular wine sweet?
Grown all over the world, and drunk widely across the globe too, it’s hard to find a grocery store aisle or wine list that doesn’t have a deliciously vibrant offering of Sauvignon Blanc.
But do all of those fun and fruity flavours associated with the wine mean Sauvignon Blanc is a sweet or a dry wine?
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Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet?
Some Sauvignon Blanc wines are sweet enough to be dessert wines but traditionally its a dry wine. But Sauvignon Blanc wine can produce a whole range of sweetness levels.
Traditionally, especially in the Loire Valley of France where it comes from, Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine.
However, as with all grapes, depending on the region they are grown in and the choices the winemaker has made, Sauvignon Blanc can make dry, off-dry, sweet and even really luscious desserts wines.
A fun fact about Sauvignon Blanc is that despite being known for making dry white wines it can sometimes be used to make Sauternes, one of the most highly coveted dessert wines from the Bordeaux region of France.
So if Sauvignon Blanc is mostly dry, why can it be so sweet as well?
Sauvignon Blanc Sweetness Compared To Other White Wines
Here's a chart of Sauvignon Blanc on a sweet to dry scale compared to other wines:
Why is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet?
Whilst sweet Sauvignon Blanc may be a rarity, it can occur for a number of reasons.
The main criteria for a wine to be sweet is that there must be sugar left over after the fermentation process has finished.
It’s the complete absence of sugar that contributes to a wine’s dryness.
So in order to make Sauvignon Blanc sweet, fermentation could be halted before it has a chance to finish. This would mean there is sugar leftover in the wine, and et voilà, a sweet or off-dry wine!
Now, the presence of residual sugar could also mean that the grape is grown in a warmer region, meaning there is more sugar than the yeast is capable of converting.
The yeast will die before all the sugar has been converted as a result of the grapes being extra sunsoaked and sugary.
Sauvignon Blanc can also be used in a number of dessert wine making processes which can involve the addition of sugar or concentrating the grape’s sugars into a syrup.
Sauternes production involves the concentration of grape’s sugars, which is what makes it such a gorgeous, sweet and aromatic wine.
But sugar aside, what are Sauvignon Blanc’s tasting notes?
What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
One of the reasons Sauvignon Blanc is such a beloved grape is because its flavours can vary depending on where the grape is grown. This versatility of flavour makes it an exciting option regardless of your preferences.
- Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Loire Valley of France can taste of freshly cut grass, slices of green apple and freshly zested limes. Think crisp, green, dry minerality here.
- Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand, on the other hand, can taste like passion fruit seeds, ripe gooseberries and juicy honeydew melon. It’s like a pornstar martini in a glass, or sunbathing on a tropical island.
As you can see, from dry to sweet, there’s a Sauvignon Blanc for everyone.
It’s important then, in order to get the most out of your chilled Sauvignon Blanc, it’s to store your bottles correctly.
This will help to get the most flavours and aromatics out of each bottle.
The taste of Sauvignon Blanc’s taste may change from region to region, but what are the characteristics typically associated with Sauvignon Blanc?
|Dry to Sweet||Common Flavours||Variety / Region|
|Very Dry||Green apple, lemon, grapefruit, gooseberry, grass||Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé|
|Dry||Citrus, tropical fruit||New Zealand, California, South Africa|
|Off-Dry||Fruity||Bordeaux region of France|
|Sweet||Peach, apricot, honey, melon||Sauternes|
What are the Characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc?
Typically, Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to have the following characteristics:
- Sauvignon Blanc Alcohol Levels - Sauvignon Blancs can have an alcohol level ranging between 11.5-13.5% ABV.
- Sauvignon Blanc Sweetness Levels - Traditionally Sauvignon Blanc makes dry white wines, but the variety can be used to make sweet wines too. Sauternes is a good example of a sweet Sauvignon Blanc.
- Sauvignon Blanc Acidity Levels - Sauvignon Blancs have lots of mouth watering acidity, with notes of lemon and lime, as well as more tropical citrus flavours.
But what about these rarer, sweeter styles of Sauvignon Blanc?
Sweet Types of Sauvignon Blanc Wine
Probably the most famous example of a sweet Sauvignon Blanc is Sauternes, a dessert wine made in the Bordeaux region of France.
Although mostly made with the Sémillon grape, Sauternes can often be made as a blend, and this is where Sauvigon Blanc comes to the rescue.
It tastes of baklava and honeyed walnuts and sugared citrus peel.
In some New World countries such as Chile and South Africa, Sauvignon Blanc is used to make some lusciously sweet dessert wines, too.
Seek out a bottle next time you’re wine shopping and see how these wines compare to Sauternes.
Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweeter Than Pinot Grigio?
Okay, so Sauvignon Blanc may be mostly dry, but how does it compare to other wines?
Is Sauvignon Blanc sweeter than Pinot Grigio, for example?
As a rule, both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are traditionally used to make dry, white wines with no hint of residual sugar.
However, when Pinot Grigio is grown in France (where it is labelled as Pinot Gris) it can have a much sweeter taste and often results in perfumed off-dry wines.
And, as we discussed above, occasionally Sauvignon Blanc can be used to make dessert wines.
If you’re unsure as to whether your chosen Sauvignon Blanc is sweeter than your chosen cool Pinot Gris, it's best to either taste for yourself or to ask your wine retailer, as they’ll know best depending on the bottles you have in mind.
Read more: Is Pinot Grigio Sweet?
But what about Chardonnay?
How does Chardonnay compare with Sauvignon Blanc?
Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweeter Than Chardonnay?
As with Pinot Grigio, both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are used to make dry, white and very popular wines.
Chances are both will feature heavily on most wine lists you come across.
Sauvignon Blanc has a similar level of dryness to Chardonnay, but both of these grapes can be used to make sweeter, dessert wines if the occasion calls for it.
Again, if you’re unsure, just ask!
Wine professionals are happy to help and you’ll learn something new in the process, it’s a win win.
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