Sauvignon Blanc: What You Need to Know

Go into almost any bar or restaurant, particularly in the UK, and you’re almost guaranteed to find Sauvignon Blanc on the wine list. This wonderful white wine has become one of the most popular in the world, with producers all over the globe making it.

But why is Sauvignon Blanc so beloved?

We could talk at length about the qualities of the grape, the resulting wine’s taste, and everything that makes Sauvignon Blanc such an enjoyable drinking experience. Instead, we’ll share a short list of interesting facts about the wine that may give you some insight into what makes it so unique to so many people.

A Sauvignon Blanc's cluster.
A Sauvignon Blanc’s cluster

Fact #1 – It’s So Easy to Pair

Many people know that one of the true joys of drinking Italian wine lies in finding the right food pairings for your wine. This can be a complex task, especially if you have a wine that combines various notes to create a pretty complicated package.

With Sauvignon Blanc, food pairing is made simple.

That’s because of the wine’s citrus notes, which some point out are somewhat lemony. As a result, any food that you’d feel comfortable squeezing a lemon onto is a type of food that pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc.

That means almost any type of seafood pairs well with this wine. The same goes for fish, roast vegetables, and even some forms of mature cheese. The wine also does a great job of cutting through garlic flavours, giving you a dose of freshness to go along with the taste of the garlic. Simply put, Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile wine that you can easily pair with a huge range of dishes.

Fact #2 – It’s Wild at Heart

Sauvignon Blanc is a native French grape, with its name derived from the French Words “sauvage” and “blanc”. These words mean “wild” and “white” respectively, which gives you some insight into how the French view the grape.

It’s wild at heart and easy to grow. That is the reason Blanc’s popularity has expanded far beyond the Bordeaux region where it made its name. Today, you can find examples of this wine from Italy, Spain, and almost any other winemaking country. That variety means that you always have choices. If you don’t like one producer’s or country’s version of Sauvignon Blanc, you can always follow the grape’s wild path to another producer or country to sample.

Fact #3 – It’s a Parent of a Famous Grape

Speaking of Sauvignon Blanc’s French origins, one of the most interesting things about the grape is that it has played a large part in forming the famous Cabernet Sauvignon grape.

At some point in history, Sauvignon Blanc combined with Cabernet Franc. Both amazing grapes in their own right, these two grapes ended up giving birth, metaphorically, to Cabernet Sauvignon. So even if you’re not the biggest fan of Sauvignon Blanc, you can still trace its fingerprints to another remarkable grape that may be more to your liking.

Fact #4 – It’s South Africa’s Most Loved Wine

South Africa’s wine industry is an interesting beast. The wines that emerge from the country are often wildly popular, though producers in South Africa still struggle to reach profitability. Nevertheless, Sauvignon Blanc has long established itself as one of the country’s favoured grapes.

This all began in the 20th century when migrant winemakers planted the country’s first batches of the grape. A learning process occurred, with winemakers having to accept that these original crops weren’t very good. The 1940s saw a complete uprooting of most of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the country, with replanting beginning in the 1970s. Equipped with more knowledge, winemakers produced much better quality the second time around.

That quality is demonstrated by the expansion of Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. The grape accounted for just 0.2% of South African vineyards during its replanting period. By 1980, that number had risen to 10% and grew.

Fact #5 – It Pairs with Sushi

We talked earlier about Sauvignon Blanc’s ability to pair with seafood. Those in the know may have read that and thought, “what about sushi?”

That’s a good question because sushi is difficult to pair with wines. The raw fish dish rarely tolerates wines, with most overpowering sushi to the point where you may as well not drink them together.

But Sauvignon Blanc is different.

Its combination of lemony and earthy notes makes it a perfect pairing for sushi, meaning you can finally enjoy a nice glass of wine alongside your Japanese delicacy.

Fact #6 – It Can Be Found Under Other Names

While most Sauvignon Blanc producers happily use the name of the grape so they can take advantage of its immense history, some New World (read – Californian) producers take a different approach.

They call their Sauvignon Blanc wines other names, including Blanc Fumé and Fumé Blanc.

Why the change?

Generally, a wine carrying either of these monikers is a Sauvignon Blanc that was oaked during production. They tend to carry some more smoky tones because of this, making them an interesting diversion for fans of traditional Sauvignon Blanc.

Fact #7 – It Requires a Lot of Work to Maintain

This is where Sauvignon Blanc being a wild grape comes into play. If left untended, the vines will quickly grow out of control, taking over a vineyard in the process.

As such, every bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you drink results from a producer’s hard work tending the vines and ensuring they don’t fully live up to their wild nature. Spare a thought for the many winemakers who’ve spent countless hours taming Sauvignon Blanc so you can enjoy it.

The Final Word

Sauvignon Blanc’s popularity looks set to continue for many years, and we want to ensure you always have access to the best examples of this particular grape.

So, we’ve compiled a great list of these wines, with 74 products in the Xtrawine collection. Some are traditional still Sauvignon Blancs, while others are lovely sparkling wines. All are great additions to your growing wine collection.


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