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Explore 8 Famous White Wine Grape Varieties

Most commonly, you’ll hear the words “dry”, “sweet” , “light”, “fruity” or “refreshing” used to describe a white wine. White wine grape varieties are actually green, pink or even golden yellow. Oftentimes these wines spend less time fermenting with their skins on and therefore take on less of the skin’s color. There really is a distinctive difference in the flavor profile of white wines as opposed to reds.

The Most Well-Known White Wine Grape Varieties

Maybe you’re looking to branch out and expand your wine palate, or, a newcomer to the wine world looking to make sense of the many choices available to you — This list of the 8 most famous and common white wine grape varieties to give you a great place to start exploring your white wine palate.

Chardonnay

The Queen of white wines, produced from green-skinned grapes. Originally from the Burgundy region in Eastern France – now grown in nearly every wine region globally. Vinified in a variety of wine styles from sparkling wines to a smooth classic butter and oaky wine.

Dominant Flavors:

Butter (when oaked), mineral

Color:

Golden yellow

Mouth-feel:

Round full body

You May Also Like: White Sancerre, Verdejo

Sauvignon Blanc

From a similar region in Eastern France as Chardonnay, this too is a green-skinned grape variety. A very popular grape variety for modern white wine drinkers. This grape variety is currently grown in various climates, the thirst-quenching flavor of this grape varies depending on where the grapes are grown.

Dominant Flavors:

Racy acidity, grass, nettles, tropical fruits, elderflower

Color:

Lemongrass

Mouth-feel:

Crisp, prickly, light body

You May Also Like: Torrontes, Chenin Blanc

Riesling

The noble white grape originated in the cool climate of Germany and is a very aromatic variety. Used to make sweet, semi-sweet, dry and sparkling wines. Currently this grape variety can be found growing cooler climate wine regions globally.

Dominant Flavors:

Peach, orange blossom, mineral, wet stone

Color:

Pale straw to rich yellow

Mouth-feel:

Rich, glycerol, vibrant acidity

You May Also Like: Alsatian Muscat, Viognier

Pinot Gris

Gris meaning “grey” in French. This grape was named due to the pale gray appearance. Known to produce fuller-bodied, rich white wines. Originating in France and Italy – regions in Oregon and New Zealand currently focus on the full-body texture of Pinot Gris where other world wide wine regions tend to produce the lighter-bodied Pinot Grigio style wine from this same grape variety.

Dominant Flavors:

Apple, pit fruit

Color:

Golden apple/honeydew melon

Mouth-feel:

Round and soft, medium body

You May Also Like: Pinot Blanc, Torrontes

Gewürztraminer

The most distinctive of all white wine varietals. A white wine grape with a pink/red colored skin, primarily in cooler climates, originating in Germany and Austria. This grape variety produces some very aromatic wines.

Dominant Flavors:

Spice, lychee, orange blossom

Color:

Warm yellow

Mouth-feel:

Rich body, coats the palate

You May Also Like: Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Arneis

Viognier

Viognier is a red wine drinker’s white wine as this grape variety is often co-fermented with the red wine grape, Syrah. Naturally aromatic, wines produced with this grape variety are fuller-bodied. This grape produces wines with a complex nose that includes floral, spices, and fruits.

Dominant Flavors:

Melon, pears, white pepper, vanilla, floral

Color:

Canary yellow

Mouth-feel:

Full, generous, glycerol

You May Also Like: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris

Chenin Blanc

A grape capable of producing everything from dry to sweet dessert wines. Most widely planted grape in South Africa’s wine region. As such a versatile grape variety, this grape is planted in wine regions around the world, used in many white wine blends.

Dominant Flavors:

Honeysuckle, stone fruits, minerals

Color:

Pale straw

Mouth-feel:

Light, clean body

You May Also Like: Vouvray, Semillon

Torrontés

Appropriately described as “similar to Pinot Gris crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, with a touch of floral”. This is the signature grape of Argentina. This grape variety makes dry and zesty aromatic white wines with flavors that vary depending on the region the grapes are grown.

Dominant Flavors:

Citrus, lemon peel, floral

Color:

green apple

Mouth-feel: crisp, lively

You May Also Like: Vinho Verde, Albarino, Gruner Veltliner

The grape varieties listed above are just some of the most commonly encountered white grape varieties. You can find wines produced by these grapes on our shelves and poured at our wine bar. However, just like with red wines, there are hundreds of white wine grape varieties beyond this list, when you step inside our wine shop or visit our wine bar you’ll be invited to explore varieties beyond this list.

We want to hear from you, your favorite white wine grape varieties.



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