Although a few white wine grape varieties, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, get the most attention, 20 white wine grapes are very popular all over the globe. Let’s take a closer look at each and focus on the wine regions that produce the best grapes.
Chardonnay, one of the world’s most sought-after white grape varieties, can be found on almost any wine list. Chardonnay is a classic French wine region, but Chardonnay wines are also very popular in California and Australia. In the 1960s, Californian winemakers experimented with Chardonnay to match Burgundy’s. By the 1970s, they had produced wines that were comparable to Burgundy.
Sauvignon Blanc white grape variety is best known for its refreshing, crisp white wines. France is the traditional home for Sauvignon, particularly in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux wine-growing areas. Sauvignon Blanc expresses the local terroir and can have a sweet or sour flavour depending on where it is grown.
Riesling is among the top three white grape varieties in wine production worldwide, along with Chardonnay (and Sauvignon Blanc). Riesling’s traditional home is Germany’s Rhine region, particularly the Rheingau wine-growing regions. Riesling wines are known for their high level of aroma and acidity. They often have floral or tropical fruit notes. Riesling, unlike other grape varieties, is rarely blended with other grapes.
Pinot Gris, also known as “Pinot Grigio”, is a white grape variety. It is part of the Pinot family, including Pinot Blanc (and Pinot Noir). Pinot Gris wines have a rose-coloured berry skin, which results in a deep yellow colour. There are two types of Pinot Gris wine. The wines in France, especially Alsace, are full-bodied and spicy. However, Pinot Grigio wines in Italy are lighter in body and more acidic.
Semillon, a grape with golden skin, is used in producing sweet and dry white wines. Chateau d’Yquem is one of the most well-known Semillon winemakers. They are located in France’s Bordeaux wine region. Here they produce sweet Sauternes wines and dry white blends called Bordeaux Blanc. Semillon is also available in Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
Gewurztraminer, a white, aromatic grape varietal, is named after a German-speaking region in Italy. Gewurztraminer’s traditional home is Alsace, a French wine region along the German border. Gewurztraminer is also available in Alsace and other European countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Italy. Gewurztraminer wines have aromas of passion fruit, roses and flowers.
Viognier, a white grape variety, is most often grown in France and California. Viognier’s traditional home is France’s Rhone wine region. California’s Central Coast has been a significant producer of Viognier wines over the past 20 years. Viognier white wines have a full-bodied character and a soft, lush flavour.
Chenin Blanc, a white grape variety, is most closely associated with France’s Loire Valley. South Africa is now the world’s top Chenin Blanc wine producer, surpassing the Loire Valley. The best Chenin Blanc wines are from France’s Loire Valley. Anjou produces dry white wines that have notes of apple and quince. Vouvray produces off-dry white wines that have floral notes and honey-like flavours.
Gruner Veltliner, a white grape variety, is the Austrian national grape. Gruner Veltliner is now responsible for one-third of all Austrian vineyards, most located in the northeast. Three Austrian wine regions, Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, are home to the best Gruner Veltliner wines. They are all located on the steeply sloped terraces along the Danube River.
Torrontes, a white grape variety, is almost exclusively grown in Argentina. It produces fresh, aromatic wines with moderate to high acidity and smooth texture. The best Torrontes wines have apricot and peach aromas. The most drinkable Torrontes wines compare to Muscat grapes regarding drinking ability.
Muller-Thurgau, a white grape variety, is a hybrid of Riesling and Silvaner created in 1882 by a Swiss-born professor. This happened in Germany’s Rheingau area. Muller-Thurgau is a classic example of the “new breed of the grape” that has emerged since the end of the 19th century. Muller-Thurgau, second in Germany after Riesling, is the most planted grape.
Silvaner, a white grape variety, is mostly grown in west Germany and the Alsace region of France. As one of the grapes used in the German wine Liebfraumilch, it became very popular over the following decades. Liebfraumilch, which enjoyed high popularity in the late 1960s and early 70s, declined in popularity, as did Silvaner. Silvaner is still Germany’s third most popular white grape variety, behind only Riesling or Muller-Thurgau.
Pinot Blanc’s traditional home is in France’s northeastern Alsace region. Pinot Blanc can also be grown in France’s famous Burgundy wine area. Pinot Blanc is also very popular outside of France in Baden and Palatinate wine areas in Germany, known by Weissburgunder and Kleiner. It is also well-known in Spain and Italy as Pinot Bianco.
Muscat is one of the oldest domesticated grape varieties. Its history dates back thousands of years to ancient Egyptians, Persians and others. There are 200 types of Muscat grapes. However, only four types are used in winemaking: Muscat Blanca Petits Grains, Muscat Of Alexandria, Muscat of Hamburg Muscat Ottonel. They are often young wines with peach, rose, and citrus aromas.
Airen, a white grape variety, is native to Spain. Airen is responsible for 30% of all Spanish grapes. Airen is a grape that thrives in hot and dry conditions, particularly in central Spain’s wine regions, such as the Valdepenas of La Mancha. Airen is currently No. Airen is currently No. 3 in the world, trailing only Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Roussanne is a white wine grape found in France’s Rhone Valley wine region. It is blended often with Marsanne to make a very aromatic white wine. The French word roux means “Roussanne”, and the name is derived from this. This is the colour of Roussanne’s ripened berries, which are reddish-brown. Roussanne wines are well-known for their floral, herbal tea aromas.
Garganega, an Italian white grape variety, is found primarily in northeastern Italy’s Veneto region. Garganega is one of the six most loved white grape varieties in Italy. It is best known for contributing to the creation of Italy’s crisp white Soave wines. This wine enjoyed a tremendous spike in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s.
Verdicchio, a white grape variety, is found primarily in central Italy’s Marche region. Verdicchio’s name is derived from “Verde,” which means green. This refers to the classic Verdicchio wines’ slightly greenish-yellow colour. Verdicchio wines have a low level of colour and high acidity. They also have citrus (including lemon!) notes. Verdicchio wines can also be distinguished by their almond notes.
Marsanne, a white grape variety, is most common in the northern Rhone wine area. This grape variety is also found in France’s Savoy and Languedoc wine areas. The distinctive wines of Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage AOCs are made from Marsanne.
Albarino, also known as Alvarinho, is a white grape variety. It is found primarily along the North Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain. Galicia in Spain is where Albarino has grown for over 90% of its total production. The home of Albarino grapes is located in Portugal’s Vinho Verde wine area.
A wide range of white wines can help you judge the depth and variety of a restaurant’s wine list. Chardonnay is the most common choice, but other white wines are available if you’re interested in trying out different varieties from around the globe, including those made in Australia and Ca