Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: What Are The 8 Important Differences To Know in 2024?

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Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay
This is our comparison of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay. Do you know what are the important differences to know? Let's find out!

This is our comparison of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay. We’ve extensively researched these two popular wines to help you pick the best for you.

Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are very popular white wine in the world. One of the pluses of Pinot Grigio is that it is affordable too. 🤩

Pinot Grigio and Unoaked Chardonnay share some similarities in terms of food pairings and structure. They both tend to be light and crisp. 

Oaked Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, on the other hand, have more complexity, a different structure, and pairs well with bolder flavors dishes.

Find below our wine guide on the most important differences between these two great wines.

Our recommendation for Best Value Pinot Grigio is Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio and for Best Overall is Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio 2020.

Our recommendation for Best Value Chardonnay is Louis Jadot Petit Chablis.

For Best Overall Chardonnay we recommend Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay.

You’ll find below our recommendation for you. Let’s begin with the review!

Wine Selection Overview

Find below our Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay wine selection for you where you’ll find our recommendation for you.

Pinot Grigio Selection

Campagnola Pinot Grigio 2021
3.8/5

The three things that make this wine the best budget are:

1) It’s a bright and fruity flavor profile that makes it a refreshing and easy-drinking wine.

2) It’s the perfect everyday white that delivers every time.

3) It costs ~$8 which is unbelievable for the quality you get.

Try it with a variety of light dishes, such as salads, grilled seafood, and white meat.

Read our full review here.

Italo Cescon
Pinot Grigio
4.1/5

The three things that make this wine the best value are:

1) It’s a vibrant and intense flavor profile characterized by its bright acidity and notes of peach, citrus, and white flowers, which makes it stand out from other Pinot Grigio.

2) It’s a versatile wine, so you can pair it with various dishes compared to the majority of Pinot Grigio in this price range.

3) It’s a good quality-price ratio. For ~ $18 you get an high quality Pinot Grigio for a very reasonable price.

It’s the perfect summer wine to enjoy with appetizers, such as bruschetta or antipasti platters.

Read our full review here.

Vie di Romans - Dessimis Pinot Grigio 2020
4.5/5

There are at least three things that make this wine the best overall:

1) Terroir: the soil composition, climate, and altitude of this area can contribute to the wine’s distinct flavor profile and character.

2) Winemaking techniques: Gianfranco Gallo uses a combination of traditional and modern winemaking techniques, which can impart additional complexity and texture to the wine.

3) Aging potential: while Pinot Grigio is often considered a wine that should be consumed young and fresh, this wine has the potential to age well up to 18 years adding more complexity and depth over time.

If you’re looking for a wine to impress at your next dinner party or to savor on a special occasion, go for it.

Read our full review here.

Chardonnay Selection

Sebastiani Butterfield Station Chardonnay
4.1/5

The three things that make this wine the best budget are:

1) It’s fresh and fruity with a stronger body compared to Pinot Grigio. You’ll still find it refreshing and easy to drink.

2) It’s the perfect everyday white that delivers every time.

3) It costs ~$15 which is a good value for the quality you get.

Try it with a variety dishes like grilled shrimp, lobster or roasted vegetables if you prefer a vegetarian/vegan option.

Read our full review here.

Louis Jadot Petit
Chablis
4.2/5

The three things that make this wine the best value are:

1) It’s refreshing and complex, which means that although it’s easy to drink it’s more refined than the previous one, as you’ll perceive more aromas and flavours. 

2) It’s a versatile wine, so you can pair it with various dishes from fish, white meat, veggie and of course light and fresh cheese.

3) It’s a good quality-price ratio. For ~ $25 you get a high quality Chardonnay for a reasonable price.

Try it with lobster, roasted chicken or pork, feta quiche or Thai green curry and it will be a delight!

Read our full review here.

Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay
4.3/5

There are at least three things that make this wine the best overall:

1) Extra clarity and finesse compared to the standard Chardonnay, i.e. it’s a pure joy to drink.

2) Has many layers of complexity which is a testament to the quality of the grapes and the winemaking expertise of Beringer Vineyards and makes it a perfect example of California Chardonnay.

3) It offers great value for your money if compared to its peers, as you’ll save several $10s.

Read our full review here.

Comparison

Let’s now take a closer look at the difference between Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay so that you’ll have enough details to make an informed decision.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: Where are they produced?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from regions and wine styles points of view.

Regions and winemaking techniques influence the taste profiles of both wines. The typical taste profiles depending on the region, for Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay, are as follows:

Cool climates help Pinot Grigio grow at its best and mature relatively early causing high sugar levels. 

Depending on the vinification style, this can lead to either a wine high in alcohol if fermented to dryness, or a sweeter wine.

Minerally and Dry Pinot Grigio is primarily from the northern part of Italy and precisely Lombardia, Trentino Alto Adige, and Veneto.

Fruity and Dry Prinot Grigio is primarily from Italy (north-east Italy, Toscana, Abruzzo, and Sicilia, USA (California, Oregon, and Washington), and New Zealand.

Fruity and Sweet Pinot Gris is primarily from Alsace in France. 

Find more about Pinot Grigio here.

Chardonnay’s an extremely versatile grape that grows worldwide in different climates and soil. Chardonnay does best in clay, limestone, and chalky soil. 

The climate affects the tasting profile of the wine in the following ways:

In cool climates, Chardonnay tends to be mineral with citrus flavor, high acidity, and medium body. 

Regional areas examples: France (Champagne, Burgundy), Northern Italy, US (Sonoma Coast), New Zealand.

In warm climates, Chardonnay tends to have tropical and stone fruit ripe flavor, lower acidity, and full body. 

If the over-ripening is not properly controlled it will considerably reduce aromas and acidity. 

Regional areas examples:  Southern Italy, South Australia, and South Africa. Find more about Chardonnay here.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: Which grapes are used to produce them?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from a grape point of view.

Pinot Grigio is made with Pinot Grigio grapes.

Chardonnay is made with Chardonnay grapes.

Both are white-wine grape varieties of the species Vitis vinifera.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: What's their alcohol content?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from an alcohol content point of view.

Alcohol content or more precisely Alcohol By Volume, i.e. ABV, measures the alcoholic strength of a drink.

There is a direct relationship between the sugar left in the wine after the alcoholic fermentation has taken place, i.e. Residual Sugar or RS, and ABV.

During the alcoholic fermentation, the yeast transforms the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol.

Grapes with high residual sugar will therefore produce dry wine with a high ABV.

Depending on the different styles, Chardonnay’s ABV is usually between 10.5% to 14.5%, whereas Pinot Grigio’s ABV ranges between 10% to 14%.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: What's their taste profile?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from a taste profile point of view.

Pinot Grigio (minerally and fruity style) it’s known for its dryness, high acidity, light-body, lemon, and apple notes. 

Pinot Gris (Alsace) on the other hand has more body, lower acidity, more complexity, and is sweeter.

Here is a brief overview of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris typical flavors:

  • Pinot Grigio Minerally and Dry: apple, lemon zest, mineral.
  • Pinot Grigio Fruity and Dry: apple, lemon, white peach, pear, creamy.
  • Pinot Gris Fruity and Sweet: sweet lemon candy, honey, ginger, spice, ripe pear.

Chardonnay is a dry to off-dry wine with a pale lemon to deep gold color. Depending on the style it can be light, fresh, and crisp if unoaked or rich, buttery and full-bodied if oaked.

Typical flavors for unoaked Chardonnay are lemon zest, peach, honeysuckle, and green fruit or tropical fruit depending on the ripeness.

These wines tend to have medium-high acidity and a medium-full body.

Typical flavors for oaked Chardonnay are butter, vanilla, spice, apple, chalk, and citrus fruit for cool climates or tropical fruit for warm climates.

The wines tend to have medium-low acidity and a medium-full body.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: Are they sweet or dry?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay in terms of sweetness level or residual sugar.

The sweetness level of a wine is expressed in grams of sugar per liter, aka g/L, or as a percentage.

10 g/L equals 1% which, if you are interested, represents 6 calories per 5 oz serving. 

You will usually find Chardonnay primarily produced as dry or off-dry wine.

On the other side you can find Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris in various sweetness levels, that goes from dry to sweet.

  • A dry wine contains less than 15 g/L.
  • An off dry wine contains between 15-30 g/L.
  • A sweet wine contains between 50-100 g/L.

Learn more about wine sweetness level here.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: Which are the recommended food pairings?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from a food pairings point of view.

Both Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are versatile wines and pair very well with many dishes. You’ll find below some suggestions.

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris pairings depend on the style. 

Pinot Grigio goes well with salad and salty foods like french fries and salty olives. Chicken, shellfish, and grilled fish are common pairings. 

Cheese wise go with soft (Philadelphia) and creamy (Brie) cheese for the minerally version. Semi-soft (Fontina) and firm (Beaufort) for the fruity version.

Pinot Gris pairs well with stronger flavors like foie gras, cream sources, grilled vegetables, reach veal, pork, and meaty fish.

Cheese wise go for blue mold and hard cheese like Gorgonzola and Pecorino. 

Chardonnay pairings depend on the style. 

Unoaked Chardonnay goes well with salad, veggie risotto, paté, chicken, shellfish, sushi. Cheese wise go with fresh cheese like goat cheese.

Oaked Chardonnay can be paired with bolder flavors like prosciutto crudo, pumpkin, pork, grilled meat, roast chicken, grilled fish smoked salmon, and crab cakes. 

Cheese wise go for cream to triple cream cheese like Brie or Brillat-Savarin. 

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: How should you serve and store them?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay in terms of serving and storing the wine.

Pinot Grigio shouldn’t be decanted. The service temperature and the storing period depend on the style.

For Minerally and Fruity Pinot Grigio serve at  45 – 50 °F (7 – 10 °C) in a Pinot Grigio or Viognier glass.[1]

The recommended storing period is 2-3 years for normal bottles.

For Pinot Gris off-dry serve at 45 – 50 °F (7 – 10 °C) in a Pinot Grigio or Viognier glass. For Pinot Gris, sweet serve at 43 – 56 °F (6 – 8 °C) in a Fortified glass. 

Chardonnay shouldn’t be decanted. The service temperature and the storing period depend on the style.

For Unoaked Chardonnay serve at  45 – 50 °F (7 – 10 °C) in a Chardonnay or Viognier glass. The recommended storing period is 2-3 years for normal bottles.

For Oaked Chardonnay serve at  50 – 55 °F (10 – 13 °C) in a Chardonnay or Viognier glass. The recommended storing period is 5-7 years for normal bottles.

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: How much do they cost?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay from a price comparison point of view.

Pinot Grigio is an affordable wine. The price generally ranges from $10 – $30. Where $10 is usually the IGT Italian style and $30 the Alsatian style.

Chardonnay’s price range is on average between $10-$50. You’ll find more expensive Chardonnay over $100 especially from France, Italy, and the US. 

If you are after some luxury bottle, there is a rare example of over $10’000 a bottle, yes $10’000, such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru.

Our Verdict

If you have been through the guide, by now you are a Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay expert!

Both Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are great wines and you should now have a good idea of what to expect from them.   

Our recommendation is therefore based on what you’d fancy the most at a particular given moment or event. 

Pinot Grigio and Unoaked Chardonnay are usually good choices for a hot summer day since they are refreshing, very light, and easy to drink.

Pinot Gris and Oaked Chardonnay offers more complexity and can be paired with bolder flavors like grilled meat or fish. It’s therefore a more all-year-round wine in a sense.

Our recommendation for Best Value Pinot Grigio is Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio and for Best Overall is Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio 2020.

Our recommendation for Best Value Chardonnay is Louis Jadot Petit Chablis.

For Best Overall Chardonnay we recommend Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay.

As always make sure to serve them at the right temperature to enjoy them at their best.

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