Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay: Comparing Great Wine Varieties

Paige drinking white wine outside after dark

One of the biggest commonalities between these two popular white wines is their versatility! Depending on where and how it’s made, two glasses of Chardonnay can taste quite different from one another. And depending on where it’s made, two glasses of Pinot Grigio will not only taste different, they might be called something completely different! These dry white wines have a lot in common, but if you want to know all the little nuances between Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay, keep reading! 

The next time you’re out to dinner and don’t know what to order, or you’re debating what to bring along to a dinner party, I’ve got you covered!

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay Taste Comparisons

Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio have a lot of similarities, so it’s important to ask yourself a few important questions! Like whether or not you have a preference for light bodied wines, or do you prefer to drink full bodied wines? Or how dry do you like your wine? And of course, what are you planning to eat? If you don’t have all the answers to those questions yet, don’t worry!

I always recommend using these guides as a jumping off point, before doing a taste test for yourself! 

What does Pinot Grigio taste like?

This light bodied white wine is most often described as zesty, fruity, and refreshing! It’s a huge crowd pleaser, and on a hot summer day, will leave you feeling satisfied! Although the flavors can vary depending on where it’s grown, some of the notes you might pick up in your glass include lemon, melon, peach, almond, honey, and yellow apple.

No matter where it’s made, you can generally expect Pinot Grigio to be bright and acidic. Pinot Grigios from northern Italy are crisp, refreshing and easy to drink, and Pinot Gris (what you call a Pinot Grigio made in France), usually made in Alsace, is known for being a little richer and full-bodied. The reason behind this is because it’s made from riper grapes. 

A fun fact you might want to bring along to a dinner party? Because of their unique gray-ish coloring, Pinot Grigio grapes are thought to be a mutation of the popular Pinot Noir grape! 

Keep Reading: The Complete Guide to Pinot Grigio

What does Chardonnay taste like?

It’s difficult to characterize the flavor of Chardonnay, since it’s such a versatile wine. Depending on where it’s made – which since it’s not a temperature sensitive grape, includes wine regions all over the globe – and how it’s made, one Chardonnay can taste pretty different from another! 

It’s best known as being a dry, fruity, full-bodied white wine. It’s also acidic, and has a high alcohol content. The dominant flavors you might be able to pick up in your glass include yellow and green apple, pineapple, star fruit, and lemon. 

If you’re enjoying an oaked Chardonnay, you might also notice the creamy, or buttery quality of the wine. Wines that are aged in oak take on a rich vanilla flavor, or creamy mouthfeel, because of how the tannins in the wine interact with the soft wood tannins of the toasted barrel. California Chardonnay, for example, is usually heavily oaked. 

If you’re enjoying a cool climate Chardonnay (think Australia, New Zealand, and Chile, to name a few), it’ll have more acidity and citrus notes! 

Hand holing a white glass of wine

Pinot Grigio vs Chardonnay Food Pairings

Both of these wines are a great compliment to so many meals – like anything featuring white meats or fish, or even simple pasta dishes – but keep in mind what kinds of sauces and spices you’re working with before making a selection! 

Best Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

If you love seafood, I highly recommend ordering a glass of Pinot Grigio the next time you go out to dinner! It also pairs well with zesty dishes. If you’re looking for a zesty fish dish, try pairing a glass of Pinot Grigio with ceviche! It’s absolutely delicious! 

If fish isn’t really your thing, though, I recommend something along the lines of a lemon chicken piccata, or even a white pizza!

Whatever you decide to order – or prepare at home – just make sure you chill your Pinot Grigio before serving it! Chilling it help to bring out all the delicious flavors!  

Best Chardonnay Food Pairings

There’s one pretty big question you’ll want to ask yourself about your bottle of Chardonnay before you start planning what to serve entrees and appetizers; Where was it made? If it’s a California Chardonnay, chances are it’s been aged in oak, and has that delicious, buttery feeling. These wines pair wonderfully with buttery and creamy dishes like risotto, pasta entrees featuring pesto or cheeses, and most green vegetables. 

If you’re drinking a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay – like one made in Burgundy, France, for example – you’ll want to pair it with more citrus forward dishes. Unoaked Chardonnays have a higher acidity and are a nice complement to many chicken dishes – especially ones that feature lemon –  and also go along nicely with fish entrees like halibut, salmon, swordfish. 

Chardonnay is also complemented by soft cheeses like brie and goat cheese, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to put together a charcuterie board


If you’re new to the world of wine, Pinot Grigio is an uncomplicated, fruity dry wine that makes for easy sipping. It’s a huge crowd pleaser, whereas Chardonnay can be a little more controversial. There’s some people out there who are fervently Team ABC – Anything But Chardonnay – but speaking as someone who’s come around on Chardonnay after finding my ideal match, always be open to trying new things! 

Suggested: Chardonnay vs Sauvignon Blanc

If you’re looking to see how Chardonnay compares to Sauvignon Blanc, check out  this guide to all the little nuanced and not so nuanced differences!

>> Read the post here << 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is sweeter, Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay? 

Both Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are dry wines, but because of Pinot Grigio’s high acidity, Chardonnay is the sweeter of the two! Particularly if a Chardonnay is oaked! When aged in oak, it can take on a rich vanilla flavor, or creamy mouthfeel, because of how the tannins in the wine interact with the soft wood tannins of the toasted barrel.

Is Chardonnay sweet or dry?

By and large, Chardonnay is a full-bodied white wine that’s known for being dry. Because it isn’t a temperature sensitive grape, though, it can be found growing in vineyards all over the world – and thus vary greatly from region to region. Depending on where and how it’s made, there can be some “sweetness” from residual sugars, or take on sweet flavors if it’s been heavily oaked. Chardonnay is also often described as buttery. 

Is Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay better? 

The question of which wine is better all comes down to preference! Personally, I love both Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, but there’s definitely a right time (and the right dish) for each of them to have their moment to shine!

Is Pinot Grigio considered a sweet wine?

Pinot Grigio is a dry wine known for its acidity! Read more about is Pinot Grigio a sweet wine here.

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