Chardonnay vs Pinot Gris

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Normally, there would not be many situations in which a comparison between these two types of wine would arise. 

Yet, there have been innovations in the winemaking industry, including unoaked versions of Chardonnay, which have brought a zesty style that resembles Pinot Gris. 

Pinot Gris is known for being a fun light wine that pairs well with light meats and seafood dishes but compliments foods with citrusy ingredients. 

On the other hand, Chardonnay is usually known for its traditional fuller-bodied, buttery vanilla caramel notes from the barrel, only recently in regions of the Pacific coast of the United States, Australia, Chablis, and the Loire, France, to name a few. 


What are the Similarities?

Traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Gris may not have much in common. Still, if we move away from the oaked varieties and instead use the unoaked style of Chardonnay, we find some interesting similarities. 

Suddenly Chardonnay has a zesty pop to it, similar to what sommeliers look for in a good Pinot Gris. Plus, these notes of citrus are best paired with lighter pasta, seafood dishes, and white meat plates. 

Both types of winemaking processes can be found in the Pacific Northwestern region of the United States, where Oregon vineyards have been working on each of these styles to make the best-tasting vintage.


What are the Differences?

Now that we have seen the Unoaked Chardonnay’s qualities, we find the differences between the traditional Oaked style wines and Pinot Gris to be stark in contrast. 

As mentioned above, Pinot Gris is going to be a lighter, zestier flavored vintage that makes appearances in good weather formal events similar to the Kentucky Derby, which is held every year on May 6th. 

Chardonnay is made traditionally using processes that age the vintage in oaked barrels and will have fuller-bodied wines with stronger rich flavors with notes of the oak’s buttery vanilla. 

Cooler climate vineyards will have citrusy tones, while warm climate vintages will have some tropical fruit flavors. 


Pros and Cons: Chardonnay vs. Pinot Gris

One of the most wonderful things about Chardonnay was the invention of the un-oaked style, which has now opened up this vintage to a whole new generation of wines to try. 

Such a variety of flavors could only be brought to earth by the con of Chardonnay, which would be the waiting time for a proper aged oaked style of wine. 

This brings us to the limits of Pinot Gris, which only pairs with lighter dishes, but not with heavier plates or red meat-centered meals. 

Yet, the pros are, on the same token, being the perfect fit for seafood fish, beach, and warm weather events, and can be excellent for cooking dishes that need a bit of zest.


Which wine is More Versatile?

Some of the details mentioned above will lead us to which has more versatility, even without needing to compare how they are made, taste, and pair, along with cooking flavors. 

Chardonnay would have been closer to losing this comparison for the fact that the aging processes and oak barrels corner the vintage. 

Since the innovation of unoaked varieties, the Chardonnay vintage has taken a large lead when compared to Pinot Gris, which is great at being an easy-to-drink, zesty, citrusy vintage. 


Which one has More Tannins?

Pinot Gris is a light-bodied vintage that goes through rigorous filtering processes that will keep most bioorganic and microorganisms from entering the bottles. White wines are not traditionally known for having tannins, which leads us to the chardonnay bottling process. 

The unoaked varieties, Rosés, and white wines will be light-bodied, just like that of the Pinot Gris vintages. Then you have the traditionally Oaked-style vintages, which will be richer and fuller-bodied than the other wines being written about in this article. 

Simply put, red wines will typically have more tannins than rosés and white wines, all in part because of the processes in which these vintages are made. 


Final Thoughts on Chardonnay vs Pinot Gris

Each of these two wines will have perfect spots to be drunk and enjoyed, and Pinot Gris will be a solid choice for a summer evening dinner party with friends, best paired with a light meal and post-dinner entertainment. 

Chardonnay will be more formal, in the traditional oaked varieties, being best paired with red meat courses and can be a perfect gift when visiting others’ homes. 

Unoaked style Chardonnays are just finding their way in today’s modern market, fitting in at parties and festivals, pairing with lighter seafood and pasta dishes. The best action will be to try these new winemaking processes, Chardonnays, and taste them for yourselves.