Types of White Wine
There are many delicious types of white wine and each is produced by many different white wine brands across multiple geographic areas
Knowing your white wines will let you enjoy your wine tasting experience to the fullest. Here are some of the main sweet white wine types and types of dry white wine that you’ll find on every good wine list.
Main Flavors: Green apple, pineapple, a hint of citrus
To answer what is Chardonnay, this versatile white wine grows successfully in vineyards around the world, but it originates in Burgundy, France. When wondering is chardonnay sweet, the answer is neither sweet nor dry, but it does embody some of the same delicious flavors as many sweet wines.
Apple, pineapple and citrus flavors add a pleasant acidic finish and cut through the sweetness to create a well-rounded taste.
Main Flavors: sweet red apple, melon, ripe pear
Chenin Blanc is another wine with French origins, originating in the Loire region. Depending on the climate and region where it is grown, and how long it has matured, it can range from sweet to off-sweet, or even dry. A glass of Chenin Blanc is a treat for the nose and palate, with soft fruity aromas and flavors like apple, pear and melon.
Main Flavors: Grapefruit, allspice, a hint of licorice
If you’re a fan of sweet wine Gewürztraminer should definitely be on your wine list. This German cultivar is also grown in France and Italy and produces a sweet, luxurious wine that goes very well with spicy dishes. Riesling gewürztraminer is a blended cultivar that brings the sweet fruity flavors of Gewürztraminer together with the acidity of Riesling to produce a lighter, easier-drinking wine.
Main Flavors: apple, stone fruits, and sweet citrus
One of the most unique types of white wine, Grüner Veltliner is grown extensively in Austria. It shares some of the fruity characteristics of Gewürztraminer, but also offers a deeper palate of peach, apricot, and earthy flavors. Grüner Veltliner is often matured in oak barrels, which produce a mellow smoky flavor in the wine.
Main Flavors: Sweet almond, white peach, confectionary
Marsanne is one of the most popular sweet wine types, with a pure, decadent flavor that makes it ideal as a dessert wine. Marsanne’s relatively low acid content gives it a full-bodied character that encourages slow enjoyment. This is definitely a wine to be savored with good conversation on a lazy Sunday or holiday.
Main Flavors: Sweet citrus, orange, tangerine
Muscat brings the sweetness and body of Marsanne to your palate but adds a delightful citrus tang that will remind you of orange cake and sweet marmalade. Grown predominantly in France and Italy, Muscat is a great dessert wine and sparkling wine. It’s also common to find Sauvignon Blanc Muscat and other dry white wine blends, combining citrus sweetness and the green acidity of a drier wine.
Main Flavors: Subtle green apple, a hint of citrus and apricot
Pinot Blanc is like the light, subtle side of chardonnay. Crisp and green, with less weight and more drinkability, it’s a great choice for warm summer days or laid-back dining. In terms of comparing Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Blanc, the lower alcohol and sugar content of pinot blanc make it lighter than Pinot Grigio, which has a sweeter and bolder flavor.
Main Flavors: Sweet pear, melon, a dash of lime
Pinot Grigio, known in France as Pinot Gris, is a sweet but light white wine that goes well with a variety of dishes. This wine is well-suited to outdoor dining and Mediterranean-style meals. Many people ask is Pinot Grigio sweet and is Pinot Grigio dry? Interestingly, it can be both. With elements of dry and sweet, and a well-balanced flavor that comes from lower alcohol levels, Pinot Grigio is a great all-round wine.
Main Flavors: Lime, apple, apricot, stone fruit
There are so many Riesling types out there, from decadently sweet aged varieties to off-dry Riesling that’s great with a seafood platter or delicate salad. When asking is Riesling wine sweet, the answer is not so straightforward. Some varieties are definitely on the sweeter side, while others are drier and lighter. This makes Riesling one of the most versatile white wines of all.
Main Flavors: Citrus, fresh lime
If you prefer semi sweet white wine, Roussanne should definitely be on your white wine list. The green citrus flavors and lower sugar content make this wine light and refreshing.
Main Flavors: Green grass, basil, earthy flavors
Sauvignon Blanc has a subtle flavor profile and is less sweet than many white wines. It has a strongly green taste, with hints of grasses and herbs. This is partly due to the mineral soils where the sauvignon grape grows so well. When inquiring is Sauvignon Blanc sweet, the answer is generally no, but it’s not the driest white wine either. Sauvignon Blanc is ideal for wine drinkers who would like to experiment with a drier palate. Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes called Fumé Blanc - this may indicate that it has been oak barrel-matured.
Main Flavors: Herb, melon, fig
Sémillon Cépage, commonly known as Sémillon, is a dry, delicate wine that is low in acidity. This makes it a good keeper, since it can mature and become more flavorful over time - something that only red wines can usually do.
Main Flavors: peach, orange peel, apricot
You may have seen it on a bottle but wondered what is Viognier? This dry white wine is less well-known compared to some wines on our list. It combines dry and fruity flavors and can be intensely citrusy. When answering what type of wine is Viognier, the simplest explanation is a rare white wine - mostly because it’s difficult to make. Viognier is sometimes added to Syrah (a red wine) to add some fruity notes to its rich flavor.
Main White wine regions
White wine is produced in countries all over the world. but certain regions stand out for the high quality and flavor of their wines.
The French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy are home to some of the finest white wine vineyards on earth. The Loire Valley, which produces excellent Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, isn’t far behind. Burgundy in particular is probably one of the best Chardonnay regions you could visit, with award-winning vineyards by the dozen.
Top quality Riesling is produced in Germany’s Mosel region, with its soil and climate producing sweet, acidic grapes that are perfect for this type of wine.
Closer to home, California's Napa Valley is home to some of America’s finest wine producers and has gained a reputation for being one of the world’s best pinot grigio regions.,
Best food that goes with white wine
Pairing a delicious white wine with an equally delicious meal means double the enjoyment - and it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s how to pair white wine with a variety of food.
In general, try to match sweeter wines with desserts or pastries, and dry wines with savory meals. Sweet goes with sweet.
- White wines that come in both sweet and dry varieties - like Riesling and Semillon can be paired with different foods.
- Dry Muscat food pairing options include spicy dishes like curries - or enjoy it with canapes before dinner.
- The best white wine for seafood is usually Chenin Blanc - but Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are great options too.
- Gewurztraminer packs a lot of flavor and needs to be paired with dishes that can hold their own. Spicy meals and sharp-tasting cheese go very well with this type of wine.
Ultimately, enjoying wine comes down to personal preference given the numerous options ranging from dry white wine, sweet white wine, and the huge variety of wine cultivars that are available.
When you choose the best white wine to serve at your next get-together, the tips and info in this guide should help you to enjoy your wine tasting experience to the fullest.
If you’re still wondering what types of white wine to buy, joining a white wine club is a great way to sample some of the best white wine available today. Explore our wine club reviews to learn more.