White Wines

What is

White wines are a delightful category of wines known for their refreshing and vibrant character. Unlike red wines, white wines are made from light-colored grapes or even dark-skinned grapes with the skins removed. They undergo a process that includes crushing, pressing, fermentation, and aging, resulting in a wide variety of styles and flavors. From crisp and zesty to rich and creamy, white wines offer a diverse range of options to suit different preferences and occasions. Whether enjoyed on their own or paired with various dishes, white wines provide a delightful and refreshing drinking experience.

White Wines

How is it made?

Making white wine involves several key steps that lead to creating a delightful and refreshing beverage.

Harvesting: White grape varietals are carefully harvested at the optimal level of ripeness to ensure the desired flavors and aromas in the final wine.

Crushing and Pressing: The harvested grapes are gently crushed to release the juice. This juice is then pressed to separate it from the grape skins, seeds, and stems.

Clarification: The extracted grape juice undergoes a process called a clarification, removing any solids or impurities to ensure a clear and clean juice.

Fermentation: Yeast is added to the clarified juice, initiating the fermentation process. The yeast consumes the sugar in the juice and converts it into alcohol, creating the characteristic flavors and alcohol content of the wine.

Aging: After fermentation, white wines may undergo an aging process to develop their flavors and complexity further. This can take place in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels. Stainless steel tanks help maintain the wine’s freshness and fruitiness, while oak barrels can impart additional flavors and aromas.

Blending and Bottling: Winemakers may blend different batches of wine to achieve the desired flavor profile. Blending allows for the creation of unique and well-balanced wines. Finally, the wine is bottled, often sealed with a cork or screw cap, and labeled for distribution.

Throughout the winemaking process, winemakers carefully monitor and control various factors such as temperature, pH levels, and fermentation conditions to ensure the production of high-quality white wines. The result is a diverse range of white wines, each with its own distinct personality, flavors, and aromas, ready to be enjoyed by wine enthusiasts worldwide.

Types of White Wines


White wine offers a diverse array of flavors and characteristics, catering to a wide range of preferences. While some may lean towards red wine or claim not to enjoy white wine, a deeper exploration of the category reveals its incredible variety. In fact, white wine has something to offer for everyone, including those who consider themselves white wine skeptics. In this guide, we delve into some of the most popular white wine varieties, uncovering their unique traits and profiles.

Albariño

Flavors: Lemon, grapefruit, peach, apricot

Renowned for originating in Spain’s Rías Baixas region, Albariño yields invigorating white wines. These wines are typically dry with high acidity, medium body, and a burst of fresh flavors. Albariño is best enjoyed when young, as it is not commonly aged. However, some expressions may exhibit enhanced complexity and body after age on lees.

Seafood, particularly shellfish like oysters and clams, as well as light fish dishes and fresh salads.

Chardonnay

Flavors: Green apple, citrus, pineapple, papaya

Chardonnay, a versatile and widely grown grape, flourishes across the globe. Its pinnacle is found in Burgundy, which showcases mineral-laced qualities, while California and Australia highlight its tropical richness. Chardonnay adapts well to new oak, acquiring buttery aromas from malolactic fermentation and toasty or vanilla notes from barrel aging. Young Chardonnays often exude the fresh essence of green apples. Still, they can also offer diverse profiles ranging from crisp and stony to buttery and toasty or even brilliantly fresh with citrus and green apple flavors.

Grilled chicken or fish, creamy pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, and mild cheeses.

Chenin Blanc

Flavors: Ripe apple, lemon drop, pear, honeydew

Chenin Blanc, a versatile white grape hailing from France’s Loire Valley, produces a range of wines from dry to off-dry, sparkling, and sweet dessert styles. Also known as Steen in South Africa, Chenin Blanc wines are characterized by floral aromas, apple and pear-like flavors, and lively acidity.

Asian cuisine, spicy dishes, roasted poultry, and soft cheeses.

Furmint

Flavors: Apples, flowers, nuts, honey

Primarily cultivated in Hungary, Furmint is closely associated with the renowned Tokaji wines. With high acidity and a remarkable ability to withstand botrytis, Furmint grapes are used to craft exquisite sweet wines. The Tokaj region in Hungary is the main hub for Furmint, producing dry, medium, and predominantly sweet wine expressions.

Rich, flavorful dishes such as roasted pork or duck, spicy Asian cuisine, and aged cheeses.

Gewürztraminer

Flavors: Lychee, grapefruit, flowers, talc

n the Alsace region of France, Gewürztraminer reaches its peak, producing intensely aromatic and spicy wines that span from bone dry to luxuriously sweet. In cooler climates like Oregon and northern Italy (where it is known as Traminer), Gewürztraminer yields crisp, grapefruit-flavored white wines with no oak influence. These versatile wines often pair well with Asian dishes and spicy cuisine.

Spicy dishes, Asian cuisine, smoked salmon, and aromatic cheeses.

Grüner Veltliner

Flavors: Apple, peach, citrus and mineral notes

As Austria’s most popular grape variety, Grüner Veltliner accounts for over a third of all plantings in the country. While small plantings can also be found in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the U.S., Grüner Veltliner truly shines when cultivated and crafted in its homeland. Young and unoaked expressions display flavors of green grape, apple, peach, citrus, and mineral notes. Premium examples, sourced from low-yielding vineyards and aged in oak casks, offer a unique blend of white pepper spice, rich fruit, and pronounced mineral complexity.

Lighter meats like chicken or turkey, seafood, vegetarian dishes, and creamy sauces.

Marsanne

Flavors: Marzipan, white peaches, pears

Marsanne, the primary white grape of the northern Rhône region, is now being labeled as a varietal in the U.S. It is commonly blended with Roussanne, Viognier, and sometimes Grenache Blanc. Marsanne reliably ripens and produces full-bodied, low-acidity wines with flavors of almonds, white peaches, and subtly spiced pears. Australia boasts some of the world’s oldest Marsanne plantings.

Grilled fish, roasted chicken, creamy risottos, and hard cheeses.

Muscat

Flavors: Oranges, tangerines

Muscat exists in numerous varieties worldwide, all sharing a distinct aroma of oranges. When fermented dry, Muscat wines often retain a hint of sweetness alongside their fruit-driven scents and flavors. It excels as a light sparkling wine, such as the renowned Moscato d’Asti from northern Italy, or as rich dessert wines like Beaumes de Venise. Australia produces fortified Muscats that showcase the grape’s luscious and concentrated characteristics.

Fresh fruit, light desserts, fruit tarts, and cheeses like blue cheese or goat cheese.

Pinot Blanc

Flavors: Green apple, citrus

Pinot Blanc, lighter and more elegant than Chardonnay, has not gained the same recognition as its sibling, Pinot Grigio. Nonetheless, excellent examples can be found in Alsace, northeast Italy, Oregon, and parts of California, offering a range of profiles from lightly herbal to spicy and citrusy. Pinot Blanc shines when aged in stainless steel tanks.

Seafood, light salads, grilled vegetables, and mild cheeses.

Pinot Gris/Grigio

Flavors: Citrus, fresh pear, melon

Pinot Grigio produces light, refreshing, and food-friendly white wines that emphasize freshness over oak and alcohol. Prominent versions originate from the Tre Venezie region, while Alsace and Germany’s Pfalz region also excel with this grape. Pinot Gris, the same grape under a different name, has become Oregon’s preeminent white wine, delivering lively, pear-flavored wines with a touch of fruity sweetness. California offers slightly weightier Pinot Grigio, while Washington produces intense, tart wines that pair beautifully with seafood.

Seafood, light pasta dishes, grilled vegetables, and light cheeses.

Riesling

Flavors: Green apple, citrus, apricot, peach, honeysuckle

Riesling offers a range of flavors, from dry and mineral-driven to floral and sweet, similar to Chenin Blanc. The finest Rieslings come from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheinhessen, and Rheingau regions, closely followed by Alsace. Outside of Europe, Washington, New York, and Australia produce exceptional examples. From bone dry to lusciously sweet late harvest and ice wines, Riesling showcases its versatility.

Spicy dishes, Asian cuisine, seafood, and cheeses like Gouda or Swiss.

Roussanne

Flavors: Lime, citrus, stone fruits

Widely planted in southern France and gaining popularity among Rhone Rangers in California and Washington State, Roussanne is a full-bodied white wine with flavors of lime, citrus, and stone fruits. Its lively acidity makes it an excellent blending partner for Marsanne.

Roasted chicken, grilled fish, creamy sauces, and medium-aged cheeses.

Sauvignon/Fumé Blanc

Flavors: Grass, herb, citrus, pineapple, peach

Sauvignon Blanc thrives in diverse regions worldwide, showcasing interesting flavors across a spectrum of ripeness. The term “Fumé Blanc,” originally coined by Robert Mondavi, often indicates barrel fermentation. In the Loire Valley’s Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, it boasts an herbaceous, grassy character with vibrant acidity and stony minerality. New Zealand has become synonymous with intense green citrus and berry fruit flavors. In California, Sauvignon Blanc is made in various styles, sometimes ripened and barrel-fermented to resemble a tropical Chardonnay. Late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, often blended with Sémillon, produces some of the world’s greatest sweet wines, such as Sauternes.

Fresh salads, seafood, grilled vegetables, and goat cheese.

Sémillon

Flavors: Fig, melon, light herb

Sémillon can create bone-dry white wines with a textured, softly grassy profile, or be crafted into some of the world’s finest dessert wines when harvested late with botrytis. While it has limited success as a solo varietal, Washington state and Australia excel with Sémillon. These wines can age beautifully, developing subtle spice and herb layers. Young Sémillons offer flavors of figs and melons, evolving with age to showcase leafy notes.

Seafood, poultry, creamy dishes, and aged cheeses.

Viognier

Flavors: Flowers, citrus rind, apricot, peach

Viognier is intensely aromatic, featuring scents of apricots, peaches, and citrus rind when fully ripe. It can be challenging to produce, as it can become bitter when underripe or lose balance when overripe. Excellent examples from Washington, California, and Australia lean toward ripe, peachy styles. Viognier is also blended or co-fermented with Syrah, adding delightful floral and citrus notes to the finished red wine.

Spicy dishes, Asian cuisine, grilled chicken or fish, and soft cheeses.

What is a Dry White Wine


A dry white wine is a type of white wine that contains little to no residual sugar. It is characterized by its crispness, acidity, and lack of sweetness. Dry white wines are fermented until most of the grape’s sugar is converted into alcohol, resulting in a drier taste profile. These wines typically have flavors that range from citrus, green apple, and tropical fruits to floral and mineral notes. Dry white wines are versatile and can be enjoyed on their own or paired with a variety of foods, including seafood, poultry, salads, and light pasta dishes. Popular examples of dry white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling (when made in a dry style).