Different Types of White Wine a Wine-Lover Should Know About

White wine is a straw-yellow or yellow-green alcoholic drink produced by fermentation of mainly yellow or green grapes. In terms of taste and style, white wines are lighter and more refreshing than red wines. Because of their mild tartness and aroma, they are commonly used in various cooking applications as well, such as deglazing juices and softening meat.

With all the different varieties of white wine offering a wide range of tastes, choosing the one that suits your taste buds could be a daunting task. White wines are generally classified into two main types based on their sweetness:

Dry white wine: It is the less sweet variety with an extremely low sugar content (less than 4g in each liter of wine). Apart from drinking, the dry white type, being highly acidic and crisp, is extensively used in cooking.

Sweet white wine: Also called dessert wine, it tastes sweet due to the presence of more than 30 g of residual sugar per liter. Because of its sweetness, it is commonly used as an ingredient in sangrias and other famous cocktails as well  as ice creams, cakes, and salads.

Aside from the two above, there are two other major types based on their contents. These are sparkling white wine and fortified white wine. Sparkling wines are typically white and contain a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, which make it a fizzy drink. Some popular sparkling wines include champagne, prosecco, crémant, and cava. Fortified wines are those that consist of distilled liquor, generally brandy. Examples are sherry and vermouth.

12 of the Best and Most Popular White Wine Varieties

1. Chardonnay


It is probably the most highly sought after white wine type produced from chardonnay green grapes, which originated in the Burgundy region in France. Both the novice and experienced wine drinkers like its buttery or toffee flavor. Oaked chardonnays (aged in oak barrels) have a smooth, buttery finish while the unoaked versions offer the taste of lemon, green apple, celery, or pineapple, along with a candy-like caramel or coconut finish.

Type: Dry, sweet

Best paired with: Fish such as trout, sturgeon, and halibut, turkey breast, semi-soft white cheeses like chevres, fontina, and halloumi

2. Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc, pronounced as sah-vihn-yohn blahnk, was first produced in Bordeaux, France and is now commonly produced in New Zealand. Because of its strong fruit notes, you may experience a wide range of tastes in every sip, including that of elderflowers, fresh grass cuttings, grapefruits, tomatillo, and green pepper. Wine lovers across the globe favor the Sauvignon Blanc since it has a perfect blend of silky with sour, as well as fruity with herby flavors.

Type: Dry

Best paired with: Potato salads, pasta, pesto, risotto, minced meats, fibrous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and asparagus

3. Riesling


The Riesling is another popular type produced in Germany, Austria, the US, and the Alsace region in France. It is a much lighter variety than the other white wines and is prized for its aroma. It is a refreshing wine that boasts of a fruity-taste (similar to that of pears, peaches, apricots, and apples), which is appreciated by connoisseurs throughout the world.

Type: Dry, sweet

Best paired with: Thai, Indian curries, sesame chicken, shrimp tacos, pork

4. Moscato


The Moscato, also called Muscat, is a white wine that originated in Italy and is produced from Muscat grapes. It has low alcohol content, ranging from 5-7%, which makes it a perfect beverage for casual sipping or brunch-time drinking. The Italian wine can be classified into 6 types based on their color, dryness, and fizziness, which are all valued for their fruity flavors.

Type: Sweet

Best paired with: Desserts like vanilla ice creams and custards, cakes, poached pears, dark chocolates

5. Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris

This classic white wine type, also called Pinot Grigio, originated in Italy and France and is known for its heavy texture. It has a dry, woodsy flavor with a hint of floral aroma. When you take a sip of Pinot Gris, your tongue will have a heavy, velvety, oilier feel. As a heavier-bodied white wine, the Pinot Gris is best served cold at around 45 °F.

Type: Dry, semi-sweet, sweet

Best paired with: Smoked meats, flaky white fish, grilled chicken, cream sauces, spaghetti carbonara, citrus fruits

6. Gewürztraminer


Pronounced as ga-VERTZ-trah-mee-ner, it was first produced in Alsace, France. With the gewürztraminer, you get to experience an array of fruity aromas, including that of lychee, strawberries, pineapple, and apricot, along with the fresh notes of rose and lavender. It is a light and refreshingly spiced variety that wine lovers casually drink on a summer afternoon.

Type: Dry, semi-sweet, sweet

Best paired with: Madras curry, sweet-and-sour chicken, creamy soups, sushi, roasted eggplant

7. Semillon


It is the third-most produced white wine variety in France and most connoisseurs across the globe like its rich flavor profile. It comes with a distinct herbaceous flavor similar to that of Sauvignon Blanc and a level of acidity equivalent to Chardonnay. The Semillon also has a waxy or oily texture and offers a heavier aroma than other whites, leaving a toned-down aftertaste in your mouth.

Type: Dry, sweet

Best paired with: White-flesh fish, hard cheese, ham, roasted pork chops, sweet potatoes, butternut squash

8. Viognier


The Viognier, pronounced vee-oh-nay, is a rich, flavorful variety loved for its aromas of honeysuckle, tangerine, and peach, as well as its intense creamy taste of vanilla. It was first produced in southern France but is now manufactured in Australia, Italy, and the US. If you are familiar with the taste of Chardonnay, you will feel that Viognier is less acidic, more aromatic, and lighter than the former.

Type: Mostly dry, some can be sweet

Best paired with: Roasted chicken, pork chops, shellfish, seared scallops, soft, warm cheeses, fried rice, citrus fruits

9. Cortese


The ‘core-tay-zee’ is a crisp, tart, flavorful Italian white wine with tints of straw or green and does not have much fizz. Some of the best Cortese come from the Lombardy and Piedmont regions, offering a wide range of flavors, including lime, passion fruit, banana, and mulch. These varieties have a high level of acidity that stays at the back of your tongue, thereby giving you a rich, luxurious finish.

Type: Dry

Best paired with: Caprese bruschetta salads, margherita pizza, chicken dishes, pesto sauces, tuna tartare, clams and mussels

10. Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc

It is not just famous in its native Alsace region in France but also in the neighboring countries, including Germany, Austria, and Italy. Most wine drinkers love this light, medium-bodied beverage because of the hints of isolated flavors that it offers, including that of lemon, yellow apple, and pear mixed with walnuts, star anise, and applewood. The Pinot Blanc has a steady level of acidity, which is the reason why it offers a slightly sour finish.

Type: Dry, sweet

Best paired with: Roasted turkey, potatoes, onion tarts, egg bakes, quiches, steaks, roasted cauliflower or zucchini

11. Garganega


It is a popular Italian white wine variety that originated in the Veneto region. The Garganega is loved for its lively, tangerine acidity, rich texture, as well as its complex, aromatic flavor similar to that of candied lemon peel, honey, spices, and tropical fruits. As it ages, the alcoholic drink gains richer notes of toasted almond and citrus fruits in taste.

Type: Dry

Best paired with: Tofu, fish, lighter meat dishes

12. Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc

The Chenin Blanc, pronounced shen-nin-blonk, is a French white wine type produced in South Africa, France, Argentina, and the US. It has a medium to high level of acidity and offers a fruity flavor of pear, quince, passion fruit, peach, and yellow apple, along with hints of ginger, chamomile, saffron, lemon verbena, and honeysuckle. This is a drink for every occasion and is loved by wine drinkers throughout the world.

Type: Dry, off-dry, sweet, sparkling

Best paired with: Salads, cream-based chicken entrees, rich, pungent cheeses

Other Common White Wines

  • Marsanne: A dry white wine that originated in the Rhone Valley, France. The Marsanne, pronounced mar-sohn, is a full-bodied drink with a nutty, spicy flavor.
  • Torrontes: An aromatic variety that was first made in Argentina. Because of its floral notes, the wine is commonly paired with Asian dishes.
  • White Zinfandel Wine: Has a light taste of smoked spices and sweet fruits. This off-dry to sweet variety tastes good with fish, pork, bacon, pasta, cheese, and Indian dishes.
  • White Shiraz Wine: A dry variety with an incredibly refreshing fruity flavor, which includes raspberry and strawberry. It goes well with barbeques and burgers, as well as roasted meat.


Q.1. Which types of white wine are best used for cooking?

Ans. For cooking, you need a wine variety that has high levels of acidity. Therefore, the best types of white wine for cooking include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, dry sparkling wines, and Semillon.

Q.2. Which white wines are best for making white sangria?

Ans. Although you can use any of the white wines of your choice, the most popular ones for making white sangria are Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Moscato.

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