Fiano vs Chardonnay

CharacteristicsFianoChardonnay
HuePale lemon to goldPale to deep gold
ColorWhiteWhite
AromasCitrus, melon, honey, mineral, pearApple, pear, buttery, vanilla
SweetnessDry to off-dryDry to off-dry
AcidMediumMedium to High
Alcohol (%)12-13%13-15%
BodyLight to mediumMedium to full
IntensityMediumMedium to Pronounced
Key Growing RegionsItaly (Campania)France (Burgundy, Chablis), California, Australia – Most major winegrowing regions
Classic PairingsSeafood, pasta, poultryChicken, seafood, creamy dishes
Price Range$20-$50$10-$50+

Fiano vs Chardonnay is a helpful wine comparison because certain styles of each can seem similar.

Chardonnay has more body than Fiano, with a range of flavors, from citrus to tropical notes. Fiano has citrus, honey, and mineral notes. Both are medium alcohol. Both pair well with seafood, salads, and appetizers.

Here’s what you need to know about Fiano vs Chardonnay.

Chardonnay Basics: Classic White Wine

fiano vs chardonnay - what's chardonnay wine taste like infographic

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world. Also from France, Chardonnay crafts wines that differ depending on the growing climate, from steely and acidic with minerality, to luscious stone and tropical fruits.

Chardonnay is often called a winemaker’s grape because the winemaker can play with different winemaking techniques to make different styles of Chardonnay.

Helpful Tip: Go check out this complete guide to Chardonnay wine.

Fiano Basics: Italy’s Other White

what's fiano wine taste like - fiano vs chardonnay

Fiano’s a white Italian wine grape at home in the Campania region of Southern Italy. For much of time, producers made Fiano in an oxidative style. Today, improvements in winemaking science have turned this little grape into a delightful white wine showcasing citrus, Asian pear, melon, mineral, and honey notes.

Fiano will usually have a medium minus to medium body, and medium acid. It comes in dry and off-dry styles. Check out more on Fiano here.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: Look for wines with the Fiano di Avellino DOCG designation for a classic Fiano experience.

Wine Comparison: Fiano vs Chardonnay

Here’s a quick overview of the most common styles of Fiano and Chardonnay wines.

Chardonnay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Chardonnay wines cover the spectrum from bone-dry to off-dry. Less expensive Chardonnay often has a little residual sugar from unfermented grape juice in it for sweetness.
  • Alcohol: Chardonnay wines generally have a moderate alcohol content, ranging from around 12% to 14% ABV.
  • Body: Chardonnay exhibits a diverse range of body, from light and crisp to full and creamy, depending on winemaking choices.
  • Acid: Chardonnay can showcase a broad spectrum of acidity, from vibrant and zesty to more rounded and soft.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Chardonnay’s profile varies widely, with notes of green apple, citrus, tropical fruit, and sometimes hints of vanilla and butter.
  • Styles: Styles range from unoaked, highlighting bright fruit, to oaked, introducing creamy textures and nuances of oak influence.

Fiano Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Fiano wines lean towards dryness, but can be found in dry to off-dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Fiano wines typically have a medium alcohol content, similar to Chardonnay wines.
  • Body: Fiano is known for its medium minus to medium body.
  • Acid: Fiano has medium acidity, similar to Chardonnay.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Fiano has citrus, melon, pear, mineral, and honey notes.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes lemon peel, lime, honeydew melon, pear, mineral, and even a slight spice with age.

Are Fiano and Chardonnay Similar?

Fiano and Chardonnay are similar. Both wines have medium acid. Cooler climate Chardonnays can forefront mineral and citrus, similar to Fiano.

What Is the Difference Between Fiano and Chardonnay?

Fiano wines have a classic honey and mineral note that can turn spicy with age. Chardonnay wines have a greater range of flavors, from citrus, to stone (e.g., peach), and tropical fruits.

Chardonnay vs. Fiano: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

fish and chips - fiano vs Chardonnay

Fiano will pair well with lighter cuisine. Lean into the wine’s citrus core when thinking about food pairing. Chicken, white fish, salads, creamy cheeses, and cream sauces will all pair well with Fiano.

Chardonnay, with its many styles, pairs well with a range of foods, from seafood to grilled chicken and even heartier dishes like lobster or roasted pork.

Both wines are best enjoyed chilled. 

Place them in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours before serving. Remove the bottles from the refrigerator approximately 10-15 minutes before pouring to reach the ideal serving temperature.

Helpful Tip: If you’re just getting started with wine, head over to the post that covers just the basics of food and wine pairing. 

Which Is More Expensive: Fiano vs Chardonnay

Wondering about bottle costs when comparing Fiano and Chardonnay? Chardonnay enjoys greater popularity overall and is more widely planted in many regions around the world, so the least expensive bottles cost less than Fiano.

Quality LevelChardonnayFiano
Entry-level$8 – $12$20 – $30
Premium$20 – $50+$30 – $50

How Much Does Chardonnay Cost?

  • Chardonnay, with its widespread availability, caters to various budgets. Entry-level Chardonnays are accessible, often in the $8-$12 USD range. 
  • A higher quality bottle, for example, a 90+ point Chardonnay from Burgundy, France, starts around $35 USD, but you can find beautiful 90+ Chardonnays from other regions for under $20 USD as well. Shop around! 

Exploring different price points within each varietal allows you to find a Fiano or Chardonnay that aligns with your taste preferences and budget.

Helpful Tip: Chardonnay wines are definitely bottles you’ll find at your local grocery store. Check out this post for 9 quick tips on how to buy great grocery store wines.

Fiano Cost

  • Entry-level Fiano wines are more expensive on the export market than other Italian whites. Expect to pay $20-$30.
  • On the premium side, Fiano will have more intense honey and layered mineral notes. They may even have the ability to age. Premium Fiano wines will cost $30 to $50, but rarely more than that.

Which Is Better? Fiano vs Chardonnay

If you like fuller-bodied white wines with a range of flavors, then Chardonnay is the better choice. If you enjoy softer citrus, honey, and minerality, Fiano is better. If you are on a wine budget, then Chardonnay is often less expensive than Fiano.

Personal Note: If I was faced with the option between a bottle of mid-priced Chardonnay and a Fiano, I’d take the Fiano any day of the week. It’s not common where I buy my wines and I’m always looking for novelty.

Final Thoughts – Fiano vs Chardonnay

Fiano and Chardonnay are fun white wines to compare because they can seem similar depending on their winemaking styles. They can both be refreshing white wines with a citrus core. Chardonnay, however, has a wider range of expressions and made around the world.

Fiano is a little piece of Italian wine heritage worthy of your time as you explore more wines. Fiano is citrusy and has layered honey and mineral notes.

Your Challenge: Get a similarly priced bottle of Fiano and Chardonnay and host a DIY tasting this weekend.

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