Food & Drink

Sauvignon Blanc: A crisp, welcome alternative to Chardonnay — or cat pee?

Those who love Sauvignon Blanc applaud its crispness and dryness, its minerality, that unmistakable grassy afterbite.

Me? I think it tastes like cat pee.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I have never actually tasted cat pee, and I have occasionally enjoyed Sauvignon Blancs. But I would prefer that my beverage of choice not taste like it was distilled from lawn clippings.

However, it has come to my attention that many, many people love Sauvignon Blanc and feel quite strongly about it, even though one of the common properties of the wine is green pepper, which is fine for spaghetti sauce but less than desirable in a beverage.

But I recognize my limitations. If you love Sauvignon Blanc, you should probably ignore me. So I enlisted a Sauv Blanc fan who would rather stab herself in the foot than drink Chardonnay. We will call her “M,” but of course I will totally tell you who she is if you ask.

We learned a few things: If the words “Marlborough” and “New Zealand” appear on the bottle, I am not going to be happy — but she is. Sauvignon Blancs don’t really go with Manchego cheese. And if we ever want to agree on wine, we’re going to have to stick to rosé.

Here is a transcript of our tasting session, edited for swearing, whining and occasional pleas for Chardonnay.

2016 Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($20, store locator)

M: Not bad, but a little too citrusy. Lots of lemon. You can leave this bottle with me, but I’m not sure I’d seek it out on my own.

Me: This tastes like someone held me down, pried open my mouth and shoved an unpeeled grapefruit and a lemon in there against my will. Never again!

Yes, that’s my actual face when I’m drinking Sauvignon Blanc.

2016 Rombauer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($24, store locator)

M: My favorite! More expensive than I usually like, but I would drink this anytime. Delicious! Better served not too cold.

Me: (frowning) Well. It’s not a grapefruit assault like the first one, and I would drink it at someone else’s house if the only other choice was water.

2016 Justin Sauvignon Blanc ($14, Whole Foods, Lucky’s, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits)

M: Too anorexic. Not enough flavor. Doesn’t do much for me. My least favorite.

Me: [stars appear in my eyes]. No grapefruit! No minerals! No grass! Tastes of apple! Stop drinking this. It’s mine.

Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($13, Total Wine)

M: I like it! It has a pleasantly crisp bite with a hint of grapefruit that gives the finish just a slight bitterness. The price is right, too.

Me: I could drink this if necessary. But pass me the Justin, OK? Thanks.

Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($22, Total Wine)

M: More aggressive grapefruit, especially as it warms in the glass. A rounder, bigger flavor than the less expensive Nobilo, but I think I might prefer the other Nobilo.



Me: When do I get to drink rosé again?

Don’t like wines that taste grassy or of minerals? Justin Sauvignon Blanc may be to your liking.