When it comes to wine, the white varietal is often overlooked in favor of its red counterpart. However, there are many types of white wines with exceptional characteristics that make them unique and worth trying!
Different kinds of wine grapes, from white to dark ones, are used to make white wines. That’s why the flavor can vary so much from one type to another. If you want to know more about each type of white wine and its distinguishing characteristics, this blog is for you.
Light-Bodied White Wines
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape variety famous for its crisp, dry and refreshing wines. This popular white wine can be found in many different regions around the world, from New Zealand to California to South Africa and, of course, France. The best French wine regions that produce Sauvignon Blanc are the Loire Valley and Bordeaux.
Sauvignon Blanc is characterized by a wide range of flavors that can change depending on the climate where it's grown. It can either be dry or sweet.
Moreover, this wine has been known to have grassy, vegetal notes in cooler regions but fruity and floral aromas when grown closer to the equator. It is light and pairs wonderfully with fish, oysters, or other seafood. Sauvignon Blanc also goes well with lighter meats like chicken and turkey.
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a dry white wine grape originating from the vineyards of Burgundy, France. It has since spread to other regions as well, such as Italy, Hungary, Australia, and New Zealand. The Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio varietal can vary in flavor depending on where it's grown and can be sweet or dry.
It has subtle honey notes or floral aromas becoming apparent under certain conditions, such as an almost salt-style minerality that comes through at times when tasting Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.
It also makes a great food wine, with a wide variety of dishes that go well alongside it! From raw fish ceviche to creamy curry dishes - this versatile grape has something for everyone.
The versatility of Riesling is unmatched among white wine grapes. The variety was first cultivated in the Rhine region, which has been its traditional home for centuries. In recent years, though, it's also grown and made wines with great distinction all along Europe's borderlands from Austria to Alsace or even California!
This white wine is renowned for its sweet and high-acid flavors, reminiscent of green apple. It usually exhibits a floral or tropical fruit aroma flavor profile unlike any other wine grapes on the market today, making it an excellent choice for classic wine and cheese pairing, Asian food, chicken, salmon, or tuna.
Gruner Veltliner is one of the most popular grapes in Austria and has been linked to its national identity. They are grown all across Austria, but three particular wine regions – Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal - can be credited with producing some of the best wines from this varietal.
These grapevines grow along steeply sloped terraces on hillsides near rivers like The Danube River, which provides an ideal growing climate for these varietals that prefer cool temperatures.
This bone dry white wine has high acidity and distinctive notes of spice, citrus fruity flavors like lemon, lime, grapefruit. It pairs best with Asian dishes like Vietnamese or Thai food and with seafood such as salmon.
5. Chenin Blanc
If you're looking for a light white wine but packs flavor, Chenin Blanc might be just your thing. This grape variety originated in the region of France.
While it was once primarily associated with areas like Anjou and Vouvray, now you can find examples of this delicious delight all over the world from places as diverse as Canada, New Zealand, China, and Argentina!
The dry Chenin Blanc has a minerally taste comparable to quince, tart pear, and hints of ginger spice. This wine also includes flavors such as ripe pear, peach, or honey with the slightest hint of passionfruit that you can pair with vegetable dishes, salads, desserts, or pungent cheeses.
The history of Moscato white wine dates back to the 13th century where it was first made in Italy’s Piedmont region. It became popular there and has been an essential part of their culture ever since, which is why they have focused on producing such high-quality wines for centuries.
But don't worry if you live somewhere else because these grapes are also grown all over different parts of Australia, such as Heathcote, King Valley, Yarra Valley, and Rutherglen.
There's also no denying that Moscato has incredibly pleasant-tasting notes, such as raspberries, apricots, and peaches with subtle hints of citrus zest on the finish. This wine pairs well with fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
Semillon is a grape used to make both dry and sweet white wines. This white wine originated in France's Bordeaux region, which has become the most famous place for Semillon producers based in this area. It also grows plentifully in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, and Argentina.
The primary fruit flavors of Sémillon are lemonade-like with hints of apple juice or even green papaya mixed into its taste profile - some say lanolin makes up part of what gives Semillon such an unusual flavor. It pairs well with seafood, especially shellfish.
This wine also works well with pork dishes and veal as it brings out the delicate flavors of these meats while bringing out its characteristics at the same time. Moreover, Semillon also goes excellent with chicken or game birds as their strong flavor will not overpower this light-bodied wine but complement it nicely.
Torrontes is a grape variety that originates from Argentina, with some vines being grown in Chile. These grapes are used to create dry and aromatic white wines which have moderate-high acidity and smooth texture.
It is an ideal white wine for those drinkers who enjoy a fruity, floral aroma reminiscent of roses and peaches. The best Torrontés white wines come from the high-elevation vineyards in Salta, Argentina.
They are usually made dry but have sweet aromas that make them perfect to match with light Asian dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala or ginger pork loin curry and Indian curries.
Fiano is an ancient Italian white wine grape that comes from the near town of Lapio. The warmer coastal regions around Campania and Sicily are where you can find this varietal, which has been made famous for its crisp acidity and easy drinkability.
These white wines are often characterized by their dryness, subtle fragrances, and fresh pear, citrus, and honey flavors encased in a waxy texture. Depending on the growing conditions for Fiano grapes, they can embrace different white wine styles such as light mineral or indulgently rich textures.
Fiano is popular white in coastal regions because it complements seafood, shellfish, and vegetarian pasta dishes. It also works well with tomato-based sauces due to its acid feature, which offsets the richness of cream-based ingredients or balances the acidic nature of tomatoes.
Marsanne is an important white grape that originated from Northern Rhone Region, where it has been planted throughout most French regions, including Savoy and Languedoc. In particular, this is a crucial ingredient within the Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage AOCs, which are known for their distinctive wines.
It offers wines with a deep color and hints of spice and pear to round out the flavors. The white wine is dry but can be high in alcohol if aged longer than usual. It also has oak-aged options for those who enjoy more body.
Marsanne's aging process takes on even richer colors and complex flavor profiles as time passes by. It is one of the perfect white wines for seafood lovers that pairs well with shellfish, lobster, crab, shrimp, seabass, clams, and mussels.
Airén is a grape variety found in Southern, Central, and Western parts of Spain. It thrives best under warm conditions with poor soil qualities, so it became the primary choice for La Mancha white wine growers because of its unmatched ability to withstand such harsh environments.
This dry white wine has a light yellow tint with an intriguing hue. It smells of ripe fruit such as banana, pineapple, or grapefruit and is surprisingly sweet on the tongue for being so gentle in acidity.
Airén white wine is perfect for pairing with all your seafood dishes. The fruity, flowery, and citrusy notes will add an extra flavor to delicate fish with a lightness that can't be found in most wines.
Cortese is a grape variety that originates in Italy and thrives on the Southern slopes of Piedmont in the Alessandria and Asti provinces. The grape has been found in significant quantities outside of Piedmont. The Oltrepò Pavese, part of the Province of Pavia which borders Alessandria, is home to this fruit's presence.
It is best known for its crisp and lime-scented characteristics. The white wine has an acidic taste and retains freshness even when grown in warm climates.
Usually, apple or peach flavors come through with honeydew as well, while there are also hints of almond and light herbal aromas that give it the character you can't find anywhere else. This wine goes well with seafood with citrusy sauces and cheeses.
Muller-Thurgau is a very versatile grape that traces its origins back to 1882 in Germany's Rheingau region. Now it’s also produced globally, with some of the best coming from Hungary, Belgium, France, New Zealand, and the USA.
The dry, mild, peach aromas and fruity flavors of Müller-Thurgau wines make them an excellent complement to light dishes.
For example, pairing a plate of asparagus with a white wine glass filled with Muller Thurgau will increase the overall flavor profile in your mouth and help you appreciate both more thoroughly.
Garganega is a white grape that originated in the Veneto region of Italy. But now, it is also cultivated in the areas of Umbria and Friuli. It is dry and includes melon, peach, and hints of green herbal notes on the nose.
On the palate, you'll taste an intermingling fruitiness with crisp citrus and sweet almond layers finishing out this perfect wine for your next Italian dinner party.
Pair Garganega with mussels and scallops, lobster, or a variety of fish like tuna, salmon, codfish, or haddock. Get creative by cooking any dish over an herbal-based butter sauce to highlight its green notes!
Originally from the Marche region in Italy, Verdicchio has now spread to Umbria and Lazio as well! It's just one of many grapes that have been cultivated for centuries by Italian winemakers.
This drink is the perfect choice for a light, refreshing summer wine. It tends to be dry with high acidity levels and citrusy (lots of lemons) notes, including distinctive almond tastes. Pair Verdicchio wines with seafood risotto or paella but don't forget about spaghetti!
Trebbiano is a grape variety found all over Italy, from Tuscany, Romagna, Abruzzo, Lazio to Umbria. It typically has an acidic finish with a medium body and subtle flavor. This dry white wine's nose consists of light aromatics such as pears, flowers, apples, and acacia while also containing hints of honey.
Enjoy the delicate noses that make Trebbiano wines so delicious: mandarin oranges or lavender work amazingly well with these grapes' natural flavors. It also pairs well with many different foods.
With flowery and fruity notes, Trebbiano goes excellent with hard cheeses and seafood or white pizza. It also complements chicken dishes wonderfully and helps balance out the flavors of pesto, so you don't get overwhelmed by garlic cloves!
Full-Bodied White Wines
Chardonnay is a variety of grape that's most famously used to make the world-renowned wine. The origin city for this particular type of grape can be traced back to France. Still, it has since been adopted by other countries such as New Zealand and Australia with their unique take on Chardonnays from different climates.
Chardonnays are typically dry in style and moderately acidic. They usually have fruit flavors like apple or lemon while also taking hints of vanilla when aged for extended periods, making them some great varieties depending on preference.
This versatile white wine works well with many different food flavors. A classic match might be Chardonnay and buttery or creamy desserts, but it also pairs nicely with nutty sauces or shellfish dishes like crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, and white fish such as halibut.
18. Pinot Blanc
Pinot Blanc grape was first cultivated in Burgundy, France. While it can still be found there, they are also grown in Germany, California, and Oregon. Pinot Blanc is a dry white wine with an acidic, medium to full body, and bright flavor.
It can have citrusy notes (especially when oak-aged) as well as pear or apple. Pinot Blanc often exhibits slight hints of smoke or mineral undertones on the nose, with almond aromas coming through in addition to light spices like clove.
This white wine has a light, fruit-like taste that complements chicken, pasta dishes, and seafood salads. It’s also great for mild cheeses and other lighter foods!
Vermentino is a versatile grape found in numerous regions: Italy, France, South Africa, and Australia, including Italy's Liguria area and the Mediterranean Islands of Sardinia and Corsica, where it hails from.
It’s noted as having some resemblance to Sauvignon Blanc on one hand while retaining its unique traits on the other. The aromatic profile of this dry wine can include flower notes, citrusy fruits, and sometimes even nutty qualities. On the palate, it fluctuates between mineral flavors or having hints of sea salt in its finish.
Vermentino is a versatile wine that can be enjoyed with almost any dish. It pairs well with fish and herbs and citrusy flavors, which are very popular in the warmer months of spring through summertime.
Viognier is a dry white grape variety that produces wines with apricot, peach, and spicy undertones. This wine has been grown in many different regions worldwide - Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the US, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
It traditionally grows best in its origin, France's Rhone region, where its signature scent resembles spring blossom and jasmine. Viognier grapes ripen slowly to have lots of bodies while retaining their light flavors like citrus fruit or honeyed flowers.
This white wine pairs well with seafood, grilled chicken, veal pork, and spicy flavors! Viognier also goes well with Asian cuisines, such as pad thai or fried rice.
Albarino is a white grape that thrives in the North Atlantic coastal region of Spain and Portugal. The Galicia district of Spain has historically been Albarino’s traditional home, but it became available in Portugal over time.
This dry wine is similar in flavor to Sauvignon Blanc and exhibits citrusy notes like grapefruit or lemons and stone fruit flavors such as peaches and nectarines. Albarino pairs exceptionally well with white fish, meats, and leafy green herbs like arugula.
Gewurztraminer is an off-dry or semi-dry wine with unrivaled taste and complexity from Alsace, France. The region's soil offers the perfect mixture of acidity to balance out its sweetness. Its notable areas across Europe are Germany, Austria, Italy, and Eastern Europe.
Beyond the exotic floral and fruit-like taste of Gewürztraminer, this wine offers a rich mouthfeel with low acidity. The stonefruit flavors may be reminiscent of mangoes or peaches, while spice can range from ginger to cinnamon, depending on which region it comes from.
This drink pairs well with red snapper, halibut, mahi-mahi, tuna, salmon, trout, swordfish, and even sturgeon.
The Verdelho grape variety is native to the Portuguese island of Madeira, where it's also used for a fortified wine called Madeira.
The vines of Australia have proven to be successful in cultivating these grapes in the wine regions of South Burnett, Queensland, Hunter Region, Lunghome Creek, Cowra, and the Swan Valley.
Verdelho is medium-dry with a crisp, leafy, or spicy aroma. In the Old World, it is rich and ripe with apricot and stonefruit flavors, while it's reminiscent of citrus fruits like oranges and tropical fruit such as pineapple in Australia.
The sweetness and fruit-like flavors make it the perfect beverage for people who prefer white or light fish, chicken, and Asian cuisine with a bit of spice.
Arneis, originally from the Piedmont region of Italy (known for producing white wines at Roero), is now found in the other areas in California's Sonoma County and Oregon's Willamette Valley.
These grapes produce dry wines with a fruity palate and aromas that will stimulate the senses. It is medium to full-bodied and has notes of pear, apple, stonefruit, nutty flavors, perfect for someone who loves Chardonnay or Verdelho-style white wines.
It is an excellent white wine for those who enjoy drinks with less intense flavors. Arneis goes well with creamy pasta, chicken, turkey, and fish dishes, which complements its fresh herbs notes.
Silvaner is among the types of white wine that has been grown in many different regions, including Austria, Franconia, Alsace, and Germany, with its roots stemming from Central Europe.
It is an aromatic and full-bodied style of wine that gives a whiff of smoke, earthy notes, slight fruit flavors, quite similar to some red wines. Würzburger Stein's Silvaners have all these qualities with hints of citrus and melon on the nose.
This refreshing drink pairs well with fruit-driven salads and light meat, tofu, or fish dishes due to its delicate flavor profile. It's best served alongside fresh aromatic herbs too!
Roussanne is a white grape variety that originated in the Northern Rhône Valley, with popularity growing throughout other Southern French wine regions, including Provence and Languedoc.
This wine’s rich aroma blossoms into an experience for your senses as soon as you smell it. Taking in deep breaths through your nose fills the room with scents like stone fruit, nuts, baked bread, and spices.
It tastes just how one would imagine, lusciously ripe peaches mixed with pear, beeswax, and lanolin with surprising acidity on the finish. This dry wine pairs wonderfully well with pate on toast points, roast chicken topped liberally by your favorite mushroom sauce, or pork sausages spiced to perfection.
White Wine Types FAQ
What is the most popular type of white wine?
Chardonnay is the most famous white wine. It has a rich, fruit-like flavor and a heavier body than other whites.
It comes as sparkling wine or still (non-carbonated) wine in dry and fruit flavors with a delicate smoothness. The other most popular white wines are Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
Do light-bodied and full-bodied white wines differ in ABV?
The higher the alcohol content in wine, the fuller-bodied it becomes. For light whites, the ABV is usually under 12.5%. On the other hand, full-bodied whites are usually over 13.5%.
Which type of white wine is the sweetest?
If you're looking for the sweetest white wine, get yourself a bottle of Riesling. While it can be found in many different styles, ranging from light and crisp to richly sweet, it is also refreshing due to its low acidity.
This grape variety has a reputation for being very sugar-heavy when compared with other grapes. You can also try Moscato wines.
Many white wines receive plenty of recognition, while others are truly hidden gems. Whether you get yourself cheap white wines, there are many best options out there. You are assured to experience a delightfully refreshing beverage that can be drunk on its own, as a classic food pairing, or as an essential ingredient to a fantastic dish.
Which type of white wine do you love most? Let us know in the comments.