Gamay vs Sangiovese

CharacteristicsGamaySangiovese
HueBright ruby to violetMedium ruby to garnet
ColorRedRed
AromasRed berries, banana, floralRed cherry, strawberry,
orange peel, leather
SweetnessDryDry
AcidMedium to highMedium to high
Alcohol (%)12-13%13%-15%
TanninLowMedium to High
BodyLight to mediumMedium to full
IntensityMediumMedium to pronounced
Key Growing RegionsBeaujolais (France)Italy (Tuscany), California
Classic PairingsPork, grilled sausages, charcuteriePasta, Pizza, grilled meats
Price Range$10-$25+$10-$60+

Comparing Gamay vs Sangiovese makes sense. They do have similar flavors.

Sangiovese has more body and tannin than Gamay. Gamay is lighter. Sangiovese has cherry and earthy, leathery notes. Gamay has bright red fruit and purple flower. 

TL;DR: If you like either Gamay or Sangiovese, you may or may not like the other wine.

Sangiovese: Italy’s Workhorse

what's sangiovese wine taste like - sangiovese vs gamay

Sangiovese, an ancient Italian grape, plays a significant role in the country’s wine culture. This food-friendly red wine has a medium to full body with red fruit notes, such as cherries and raspberries, complemented by subtle herbal. Italy remains the primary producer of Sangiovese globally, offering a diverse range of options to cater to various tastes and budgets, from everyday drinking wines to premium selections.

You’ll also find excellent Sangiovese expressions from regions like California. Here’s a full post on Sangiovese.

Fun Wine Fact: Sangiovese is a primary grape variety in the world-renowned Chianti wine. Check out this post on how to buy Chianti wines, along with a print-out shopping guide.

Gamay: Easy-drinking Red

what's gamay wine taste like infographic - gamay vs sangiovese

From the Beaujolais region of France just south of Pinot Noir’s Burgundy, most everyday Gamay wines have a lively and fruit-forward flavor profile. It offers juicy red fruit flavors, including cherry and cranberry, with a subtle hint of sweetness. The wine’s moderate acidity adds a refreshing and vibrant quality to the overall taste. Gamay’s tannins are soft and gentle, contributing to its smooth and easy-drinking nature. Check out this full post on Gamay wine.

Fun Fact: Gamay’s earned a reputation as being the first wine of the new harvest season. It goes by the term: Beaujolais Nouveau. Here’s why Beaujolais Nouveau’s so famous.

Wine Comparison: Gamay vs Sangiovese

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Gamay and Sangiovese wine.

Gamay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Gamay is typically made as a dry table wine.
  • Alcohol: Gamay will have medium alcohol, similar to Sangiovese.
  • Acid: Gamay wines medium to medium plus acid, about the same as Sangiovese.
  • Body: Gamay is a lighter-bodied red wine, lighter than Sangiovese.
  • Tannin: Expect your Gamay to have low tannins, making it a friendly, approachable wine, often lower than Sangiovese.
  • Flavors: Gamay forefront ripe red fruit, like raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. Expect a distinctive floral note. Depending on the winemaking style, you may get cola, banana, or even bubblegum.

Sangiovese Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Sangiovese is typically produced in a dry style, offering minimal residual sugar.
  • Alcohol: Sangiovese wines generally have a moderate alcohol content, ranging from around 13% to 14.5% ABV.
  • Body: Sangiovese has a medium body. You may come across fuller-bodied expressions in premium Sangiovese wines.
  • Acid: Sangiovese has medium plus acidity. This higher acid level makes the red fruit taste bright and fresh.
  • Tannin: Medium and textured. In cooler years, if the grapes don’t fully ripen, this can add herbal notes to your Sangiovese wine.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Sangiovese boasts vibrant aroma intensity, with red cherries, raspberries, sometimes an orange peel, and hints of herbs and earthiness.

Are Gamay and Sangiovese Similar?

Yes, Gamay and Sangiovese red wines are similar. They share red fruit, like cherry and strawberry, and medium alcohol. Depending on the style, they can both be medium-bodied. This will make the wines taste similar. Gamay and Sangiovese can both make simple, uncomplicated, inexpensive wines.

What Is the Difference Between Gamay and Sangiovese?

Gamay has a distinctive floral that Sangiovese doesn’t have. Sangiovese has leather, earth, and orange pee. Gamay is usually lighter in body and tannin than Sangiovese.

Gamay vs Sangiovese Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

sangiovese vs gamay - pizza

Gamay works well with dishes that need a little brightening up, like risotto, salads, and roasted white meats (e.g., turkey, pork loin, chicken, white beans).

Sangiovese’s medium body and higher acidity make it a perfect match for classic Italian dishes, including pasta with tomato-based sauces, grilled meats, and aged cheeses.

Discover More:
Red Wine and Cheese Pairing: What You Need to Know

Both Gamay and Sangiovese are best enjoyed at a slightly cool temperature. Place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: You may need to decant both Gamay and Sangiovese if they are made in a fuller-bodied style. If your wine seems closed when you first take a sip, give it a good swirl or let it sit for about 10 minutes to see if it opens up.

Which Is More Expensive, Gamay vs Sangiovese?

wine store shelf - sangiovese vs gamay

It’s logical to think about cost when it comes to comparing Gamay and Sangiovese wines.

QualityPrice RangePrice Range
WineMid-LevelPremium
Gamay$12 – $25$25 – $40+
Sangiovese$10 – $15$15 – $50+

Producers craft Gamay and Sangiovese in the extreme-value price band. You can find both under $5 USD. Moving up the quality ladder, these two wines are similarly priced. Super-premium Sangiovese, like a Brunello, tends to cost much more than similar quality levels of Gamay thanks to name recognition and limited production.

Helpful Tip: Here’s how a bottle of wine gets priced. This post is a little nerdy, but it’s quite complicated and nuanced depending on where you are in the world and where you’re buying your wine.

Which Is Better, Gamay or Sangiovese?

If you prefer a more fruit-driven, uncomplicated wine with floral and candied notes, then Gamay is the better choice. If you like a fuller-bodied red wine with more tannins and a savory note, Sangiovese is the better choice.

Final Thoughts – Gamay or Sangiovese?

Gamay and Sangiovese are delightful red wines that forefront bright red fruit. Gamay’s the friendlier, easier-drinking wine. Sangiovese can be a powerhouse or a simpler, uncomplicated style depending on the producer.

These two wines are best compared side-by-side, more so than most. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Gamay and Sangiovese, invite a few friends over, and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping.

Thirsty for More?

Here’s a guide on how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Malbec vs Pinot Noir another popular strong red wine, along with Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot.

You can discover delicious wines at every price point. Explore this post on finding great red wines under $50.

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