Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Loire Valley in France and, as such, remains one of the top regions for the grape (which is labeled under its region Sancerre). Currently, New Zealand is leading the way in terms of Sauvignon Blanc production and sales. From these two regions, the wine is seldom oaked. The reason I mention this is because it is this characteristic, aside from the grapes natural flavors, that give it the claim as one of the easiest and versatile wines to pair foods with. It is not to say that some Sauvignon Blanc’s are not oak aged, however when this happens, you tend to treat the wine in a fashion similar to pairing food with a Chardonnay.
What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
The natural flavors range through the fruit and vegetable spectrum. Specifically, you tend to find a lot of citric flavors (lemons and limes) as well as tropical fruits (passion fruit, guava, etc). With these flavors and its inherent acidity, it pairs very well with seafood. It tends to be in balance with these dishes, as it is not overpowering the fish, and vice versa, the seafood isn’t masking the wine. The only exception would be seafood dishes with very heavy sauces, such as lobster. This takes me back to oak aging or oak fermenting. Chardonnays are typically oaked which leads to richer flavors, gives the wine more depth and increases its complexity and intensity—and oaked Chardonnay would pair well with lobster in butter sauce. That’s not to say that Chardonnay wouldn’t go great with any other seafood, it simply means that Sauvignon Blanc because of its leaner, lighter taste, would be a better dancing partner with the natural light flavors of seafood.