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Know your grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Know your grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a grape varietal often used to make a dry, still white wine of the same name as well as blended white wines. Sauvignon Blanc is pronounced so-veen-yahn blahnk (though the French and much of the world outside of the US drop the "k" sound at the end of "Blanc"). Sauvignon Blanc is known for being crisp, acidic, refreshing, and easier to identify than many grape varietals. Keep reading to learn more about the history of this grape, where it is grown, and what foods to pair with it.


The History of Sauvignon Blanc

Experts don't know exactly where Sauvignon Blanc originated, but they suspect it was either the Loire region in central France, or the Bordeaux region in southwestern France. The Sauvignon Blanc name comes from French. "Sauvage" means wild, and "blanc" means white. Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in Bordeaux since at least the 18th century, and it is still widely grown there today. 


Although Sauvignon Blanc is generally known as a dry wine, the early Sauvignon Blancs in Bordeaux were sweeter. A fungus called "noble rot" would attack the grapes late in autumn, which prompted an increase in sugar levels in the grapes. There are still wines today intentionally produced with noble rot, and they are called "botrytized" wines.


Sometime in the later half of the 19th century, Sauvignon Blanc was imported to California, particularly Napa Valley. It became quite popular in the 1870s and the 1880s. Fumé Blanc, a type of dry Sauvignon Blanc from the United States, quickly rose in popularity in the mid-to-late 1960s. Fumé Blanc was created to mimic earlier Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley region of France. Fumé Blanc influenced the popularity of Sauvignon Blanc not only in the US, but worldwide. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the acreage of Sauvignon Blanc planted in California grew rapidly in response to the wine's latest surge in popularity. 


Where Sauvignon Blanc Grapes Are Grown

Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many countries:

  • France
  • New Zealand
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Ukraine

Although France will likely always be known as the Sauvignon Blanc leader, Sauvignon Blanc has become the flagship wine of New Zealand. Most of their Sauvignon Blanc wines are dry, still wines out of the Marlborough region. New Zealand has multiple Sauvignon Blanc growing regions, however, and some vintners do create somewhat sweet Sauvignon Blancs.


What to Pair with Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is served chilled, and many people consider it a summer wine. Of course, others opt to drink it year-round. Sauvignon Blanc tastes crisp, light, and often citrusy or fruity. When it comes from a cooler region, it can carry notes of grass or bell pepper. Try pairing it with the following lighter dishes:

  • Pasta
  • Fish and seafood
  • Salads
  • Vegetable-rich dishes
  • Chicken


Sauvignon Blanc is a popular wine that is simultaneously distinct and accessible. We especially recommend it for parties and gifts, since so many people find it enjoyable. Browse our selection of Sauvignon Blancs today.

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