A Guide to Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Happy International Sauvignon Blanc Day!

A global holiday for a global grape, but what to eat alongside it!?

Well, per usual, here we go!

A bit about Sauvignon Blanc:

  • Sauvignon Blanc is the mother of Cabernet Sauvignon (the father being Cabernet Franc), and is wild by name and nature; “sauvignon” comes from “sauvage” meaning “wild” stemming from the vine’s regularly required hands-on vineyard maintenance – unchecked, it can grow out of control
  • Tastes like Asparagus.  Yes, it does, and that’s because of the methoxypyrazines.  They are also responsible for flavors like gooseberries or cut grass that are sought after in Sauvignon Blanc growths – and this is one of the first grapes to be documented described by these flavor qualities
  • A global grape: Sauvignon Blanc is grown in almost every wine growing region of the world, including Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa – yet it’s only the 8th most planted grape variety
  • From lime to peach, Sauvignon Blanc has a very wide breadth of expression that indicates the temperature conditions from the growing region and the fruit’s time on the vine (not terroir – that’s the essence of the land itself).  Cooler areas with less hang time get more lime-to-green apple flavors, warmer regions with longer hang time incur more tropical fruit flavors, with a mature, very long hang time showing more peach-like qualities

That said, let’s talk food (think like a chef):

Well, we’ve already spoken to the asparagus, lime, cut grass, green apples, gooseberries, tropical fruits and even peaches, so we’ve pretty much covered all the major flavor profiles of this grape – as always, it’s best to try a bottle of your selection before bringing it to pair with dinner, you’ll want to know what way your bottle leans on the Sauvignon Blanc spectrum.

In addition to these flavors, it’s safe to assume your Sauvignon Blanc is higher in acidity, has a nice minerality, and is anywhere in the range of 12.5-14% alcohol, so a touch on the higher side of that spectrum.  These are signatures of this grape, and generally carry through all expressions you may find.

There is also a chance a little (unbeknownst to you as it’d be unlisted), or a lot (White Bordeaux blend), of Semillon could be blended with your Sauvignon Blanc.  Just keep in mind, if you are noticing white florals and an oily or waxy nature, either a bit or in abundance, that’s the Semillon talking.

Compare AND contrast:

Comparable flavors are an excellent realm for Sauvignon Blanc.  All those pyrazines make for great harmony when pairing with the items it tastes like.  Wine have hints of asparagus? Pair with Asparagus.  Green Peppers?  Go for it, pair with a green bell pepper infused dish.  Gooseberry profile?  No reason to not serve alongside a gooseberry reduction sauce over veg or protein.  Lime-spiked recipe?  Get some Sauvy B.  Peach profile?  Grilled peaches, or a peach reduction sauce are clearly the way to go.  Apple profile?  Try grilled pork chops with a hit of lemon and apple sauce.

Speaking of lemons, there is one very simple pairing rule for Sauvignon Blanc: If the dish has lemon, pair with a Sauv Blanc.  Lemon sauce, fresh squeeze of lemon, finished with fresh lemon zest, dry rubbed in lemon salt, you name it. Much like Pigs and Pinot, Lemon and Sauv Blanc are synonymous in the food pairing world.

Sauvignon Blanc also has a yet unmentioned herbaceous side, which is accentuated by herbaceous dishes and flavor profiles.  Lemon and herbs are generally hand-in-hand in the culinary world, so the combination not only shines with Sauvignon Blanc due to the lemon inclusion, but can enhance otherwise too-subtle-to-notice herby flavor profiles.

Now, when it comes to contrasting, there is really one best way to approach that with a Sauvignon Blanc pairing.  Creamy sauces.  The naturally higher acidity and minerality in the wine slices through a rich creamy sauce (especially one spiked with lime or lemon) like a hot knife through butter, cleansing the palate beautifully between bites.

Get weird:

Sushi and Sauvignon Blanc.  The notoriously difficult to pair Sushi is perfect for any Sauv Blanc or White Bordeaux Blend.  The rich fats of the fish are sliced beautifully by the higher acidity in the wine, the delicate floral notes of the sushi accompaniments are balanced by the delicate floral and herbaceous notes of the wine, and the delicate ocean profile is balanced perfectly with Sauv Blanc’s minerality.  Just an odd match made in heaven – try it sometime!

So there you have it, our guide for pairing Sauvignon Blanc.

How about you though? For our other guests, please feel free to share your pairing suggestions for Sauvignon Blanc in the comments below.

Cheers!

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