Top 20 White Wine Varietals

White wine is very popular and is often the wine chosen by people starting out on their wine journey before moving on to the heavier reds. However, there are so many different varietals of white wine that it can be difficult to know which to choose. In this article, we are going to give you our top 20 choices, with accompanying flavor and aroma notes, as well as food pairings. 

What Is White Wine?

White wine is fermented with just the pulp of the grapes and not the skin. The skins can be any color as it doesn’t affect the color of the wine. White wine can be very pale, yellow-gold, yellow-green, or straw-yellow. There are so many different types of white wine because of the large number of grapes. 

varieties, the ratios of residual sugar, and the winemaking methods. White wines can be dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Some wines are used as an aperitif, while others accompany a meal. Sweeter varieties can be served with desserts.

Health Benefits of White Wine

People often talk about the health benefits of red wine, but white wine is also healthy as long as it is drunk in moderation. It is known to improve the lungs, heart, kidneys, and digestive tract. It can also lower LDL cholesterol and slow age-related mental decline. White wine contains antioxidants that balance blood sugar and fight colds and flu as well as help to prevent some forms of cancer, especially bowel cancer. 

Top 20 White Wines

1 – Chardonnay

Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France but is now produced all over the world. 

It is a medium to full-bodied dry white wine. It has flavors of pear, melon, citrus, peach, pineapple, and yellow apple. In medium-bodied Chardonnays, gravel, stone, and chalk are noticeable. If it is aged in oak barrels, it will have hints of vanilla, caramel, spices, butterscotch, toast, and almond. Some Chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity and these wines are buttery.

Chardonnay pairs well with seafood, in particular crab, lobster, shrimp, and mussels, as well as flaky fish such as halibut. It also complements subtly flavored, simply seasoned chicken and pork dishes and creamy pasta like carbonara.  It pairs with vegetable dishes made with corn, sweet potato, and butternut squash. Creamy risotto and creamy soups are also good choices. 

2 – Sauvignon Blanc

This wine originated in Bordeaux, France but is now produced the world over. It has become Australia’s favorite wine.

Sauvignon Blanc has high acidity and a grassy and herbaceous nose. The flavors include gooseberry, melon, grapefruit, peach, and passionfruit. 

Because of its herbaceous aroma, Sauvignon Blanc pairs with herby dishes. It cuts through the spiciness of Thai and Mexican cuisine, and pairs well with lighter food such as shellfish, white fish, salads, and spring vegetables. 

3 – Viognier

Viognier is a classy and aromatic wine. If you like Chardonnay, you will enjoy Viognier as it is similar. The main difference is that Viognier has less acidity.

This wine has bold flavors. You can taste apricot, mango, tangerine, apricot, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla. 

Because Viognier is luxurious, it complements richer proteins such as salmon and roast chicken. The spices in the wine pair well with Indian curries.

4 – Pinot Gris/Grigio

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are made from the same grape but Pinot Gris is produced in France while Pinot Grigio is from Italy. There are some differences between the two. Pinot Gris is more full-bodied than Pinot Grigio. The grapes used to produce Pinot Grigio are harvested earlier. This produces a lighter, fresher wine. 

Pinot Grigio has flavors of lime, apple, lemon, and white nectarine while Pinot Gris is a spicier wine. You will taste ginger, clove, cinnamon, and lemon.

Pinot Grigio pairs well with lighter foods such as seafood, sushi, salads, cold meats, hummus, fruit salad, and French fries. Pinot Gris compliments food that is richer such as meat soups and stews. Try it with goulash or beef stroganoff. It also pairs well with Asian dishes, in particular, curry, Mexican burritos, and enchiladas. 

5 – Riesling

Riesling originated in the Rhine region of Germany. It is a much lighter wine than some white wines such as Chardonnay. Riesling can be dry but it is usually sweeter. It has high acidity and a reasonably low alcohol content. It can have a light fizz.

Riesling has flavors of pear, peach, apricot, and apple. 

The sweeter versions are often used as dessert wines and can be served with light fruit desserts such as lemon meringue pie, apple pie, and tarte tatin. Riesling can also cut through the spiciness of Mexican, Indian, and Thai dishes. A dry Riesling can be paired with light white fish dishes and seafood such as oysters. When it comes to cheese, dry Riesling complements light and salty cheeses, such as feta and mozzarella. However, with off-dry Rieslings, serve pungent washed-rind cheese like Muenster. It also goes well with pasta dishes that have a tomato sauce.

6 – Vermentino

Vermentino has its roots in the Mediterranean with Sardinia producing more than half of this wine. It is nearly always dry and sometimes oily. On the palate, you will taste yellow grapefruit, lime zest, cantaloupe melon, honeydew melon, green apple, sliced almonds, and daffodils.

When it comes to food, choose lighter dishes such as seafood, pork tenderloin, salads, and pasta with vegetables. However, it can cut through the richness of a pesto sauce. You can serve it with cheese but avoid pungent cheeses like blue stilton and choose cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, and feta.

 7 – Torrontes

Torrontes comes from Argentina, and the best vintages are from the region of Salta. 

This wine is dry, medium-bodied, has medium to high acidity, and is high in alcohol. It has lovely aromas of rose and jasmine followed by flavors of grapefruit, apple, peach, nectarine, lemon, and a hint of spice. 

Torrontes pairs with lighter dishes such as chicken, fish, and tofu. Richer dishes will overpower the delicate flavors of the wine. However, it will cut through the spiciness of coconut curries and Thai spiced peanut dishes. 

8 – Verdicchio

Verdicchio has an excellent reputation and is one of Italy’s finest wines. It has an oily texture and is a full-bodied wine. On the nose, Verdicchio has aromas of stone fruit, lemon, apple, herbs, and nuts, and on the palate, there is pear, peach, apricot, lime, and toasted almonds. There is a slight minerality to the wine with a slightly tart aftertaste. 

Verdicchio pairs well with seafood. It complements seafood risotto, seafood paella, and spaghetti with clams. Because it is a bold wine. It copes well with chili so try it with Mexican dishes. Verdicchio can be served as an aperitif accompanied by mini cheese puff pastries, mini quiches, and savory tarts. It is also good with a cheese souffle and a charcuterie board.

9 – Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer originates in Tramin, Italy, and as well as being popular in Europe, it is also produced in Australia and the US. 

This wine is off-dry and has aromas of lychee, pineapple, and apricot, as well as spices such as ginger and lemongrass. It has flavors of tropical fruit and a high alcohol content. 

Gewurztraminer complements fish dishes such as swordfish, tuna, mahu-mahu, halibut, and red snapper. It also pairs with turkey and duck as well as egg dishes such as omelet and quiche. 

10 – Moscato

Moscato was first produced in Piedmont in Italy and is a sweet wine that is often served as a dessert wine. You will taste peach, pear, orange, nectarine, and blossom. It is slightly fizzy so it can be a celebratory drink.

If served as a dessert wine, it complements desserts with vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch flavors, as well as fruit tarts. It can be enjoyed with savory dishes as well, such as a charcuterie board with meats like prosciutto and Parma ham. It pairs with soft creamy cheeses like Brie, and it cuts through the spiciness of Thai cuisine.

11 – Verdelho 

Verdelho grapes are grown mainly in Portugal, specifically, on the island of Madeira. It is a fruity full-bodied wine with a leafy and spicy aroma and tastes of pear, apple, pineapple, and guava.

This wine pairs with lighter meals such as white fish and white meat. It also complements lightly spiced Asian cuisine like Thai curry. When it comes to cheese, try it with salty cheeses such as Grana Padano and feta, and blue cheese like gorgonzola.

12 – Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc originated in the Loire Valley of France. Its high acidity means that the grapes can produce anything from dry to sweet dessert wines as well as sparkling varieties. 

Dry Chenin Blanc tastes of ginger and chamomile while the sweet version has flavors of persimmon, mango, orange, and almond. Sparkling Chenin Blanc has notes of plum and yellow apple. 

Dry and off-dry versions complement light meat dishes such as roast pork, ham, chicken Kyiv, fish and chips, and shrimp scampi. It is also a good accompaniment to a salad. Sweet Chenin Blanc pairs with fruity desserts containing apples or pears. Try apple pie or pear tarte tatin. When it comes to the sparkling version, it is great for a celebration with little appetizers such as mini savory tarts and mini stuffed peppers. It also pairs well with fried salty food. Try it with fried chicken and French fries.  

13 – Fiano

Fiano is a top-quality white wine from Campania in southern Italy. It has a mouth-watering acidity and is full of citrus and stone fruits. It ranges in style from light and fresh to rich and mouth-coating. Some Fianos are zesty with lemon and grapefruit notes while others taste of peach, pear, and apricot. Most Fianos also have a hint of jasmine and nuttiness such as scorched almonds or hazelnuts. 

Fiano complements pasta dishes, particularly ones with salmon, pork, or creamy chicken. It also pairs well with seafood soups and chowders and chicken and leek pie. 

14 – Roussanne

Roussanne wine originates in the Rhone Valley in France. It is a complex full-bodied wine with floral aromas and flavors of pear, peach, hay, nuts, honey, and mineral notes. 

Roussanne pairs perfectly with pate, roast chicken, pork, and veal. It is good with a creamy pasta sauce such as carbonara and it also complements lightly spiced dishes. When it comes to cheese, this wine is versatile. It will pair with both soft and hard cheeses such as Smoked Gouda, Monterey Jack, and Brie.

15 – Marsanne

Marsanne was first produced in the Rhine Valley in France. It is a rich, full-bodied wine with nutty overtones. You will also get flavors of lemon curd, quince, and ripe pear. As it ages it becomes nuttier and you may also taste honey. It also becomes richer and more luxurious.

Young Marsannes pair with light salads, shellfish, and white fish. Vintage Marsannes complement roast chicken and turkey, oily fish, creamy pasta like carbonara, and lightly spiced curries.

16 – Cortese

Cortese wine is produced in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is a refreshing wine with the aromas of roasted almond and citrus fruits. On the palate, you will taste white peach, pear, green apple, grapefruit, and lemon. Some have a mineral edge while others have a creamy and nutty texture.

The best foods to pair with this wine are traditional dishes from Northern Italy. Try pesto pasta and seafood dishes, including seafood risotto. Basil and lemon are perfect complements to Cortese. Serve it with antipasti with prosciutto, Parma ham, ewe’s cheese, olives, and freshly made bread. 

17 – Semillon

The Semillon grape is originally from France but is now grown all over the world in such countries as Chile, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. 

This wine has aromas of peach, green papaya, yellow grapefruit, lemon, and pear. On the palate, you will have mango, papaya, lemon, lime, and apple. There is a waxy taste to the wine that resembles lanolin. 

Semillon pairs with lighter food. It complements white meats such as chicken, turkey, duck, ham, and pork chops. Seafood is also a great match, especially oysters and fresh crab. If you are a vegetarian, drink this wine with pasta primavera which is a creamy pasta dish with vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers. It also goes well with cauliflower cheese, broccoli cheese, and mac and cheese. Goats cheese is a good choice for any of these dishes. Semillon also cuts through the spice in curries.

18 – Airen

Airen is a bold wine with low acidity that originates in central, western, and southern Spain. It is a dry wine with a light-yellow hint. The nose is ripe fruit such as grapefruit, banana, and pineapple, and the palate presents tastes of apple and citrus fruit. It is slightly sweet and fruity.

Airen pairs well with rich seafood dishes like gumbo, grilled sardines, and garlic prawns. If you want a vegan or vegetarian dish, try steamed Chinese broccoli. Lemon-flavored dishes also pair well, such as lemon chicken or lemony pasta. 

19 – Trebbiano

Trebbiano hails from Italy and is a light-bodied dry wine with crisp acidity. It has aromas of flowers, apple, pear, and honey and tastes of lemon, green apple, stone fruit, and some minerality. 

Trebbiano pairs well with cheesy pasta such as mac and cheese and cacio e pepe (spaghetti with cheese and pepper). The acidity balances out the creaminess of the cheese. It also goes well with white pizza, roast chicken, and even pesto pasta.  When it comes to cheese, it complements hard cheeses such as Pecorino and Parmesan. Serve it with an antipasti board with smoked meats and hard cheeses, as well as olives and fresh bread. A creamy risotto is also a good match. 

20 – Gruner Veltliner

This Austrian dry white wine is top quality. It is full-bodied, with high acidity. Gruner Veltliner has aromas of lime, lemon, and grapefruit, and flavors of citrus and nectarine, followed by hints of white pepper, green beans, radish, lovage, tarragon, ginger, and honey. The pepper and citrus flavors make it a good alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. 

Gruner Veltliner compliments vegetable-based pasta like pasta primavera, mushroom risotto, and vegetable soup. Bitter vegetables pair well with this wine, such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and rucola. It also cuts through the spice of lightly spiced food such as Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

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