There are many different white grape varieties used to make white wine. Some of the most popular ones include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. Each variety has its own unique flavor profile and characteristics. In this blog post, we will discuss the 11 best white grape varieties for making white wine. We will also provide some tips on how to select the right grapes for your needs. So without further ado, let’s get started!
White wine grapes come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Around the world, there are at least 20 distinct varieties. The wines’ characteristics differ based on the environment in which the grapes grow and the aging and fermentation methods employed during production.
Because there are so many different vines cultivated specifically for wine production, this is a difficult question to answer. Some grapes are indigenous to certain regions and can be extremely rare outside of them. Others may be found almost everywhere.
While it’s impossible to go through all of the white grape varieties, we’ve chosen to focus on the most well-known white wine grapes from around the world.
Short History Of Wine White Grape Varieties
Wine grapes are characterized by rich and complex aromas that originate from a lengthy growing procedure.
These grapes are a member of the Vitis Vinifera species, which hail from the Mediterranean region and have similar ancestry to red grapes.
The Greeks were the first to start a “scientific” study on wine production and grape cultivation, which resulted in the mixing of vines; today, there are over 800 different grape varieties grown mostly for winemaking.
White varieties are most prevalent in grape cultivation for human consumption, whereas this is not always the case in winemaking.
Wineries, on the other hand, produce gallons of white wine from red grapes. Nonetheless, a white wine produced from white grapes has a distinct freshness, a crisp taste, and enticing aromas.
Let’s look at the most common white grape varieties used in white wine.
White Grape Varieties Used In White Wine
In no particular order, the white grape varieties found in your favorite wines are listed below.
Chardonnay is a white wine grape variety from Burgundy. Its vineyard area was 210,000 hectares across 41 countries in 2015. This variety is cultivated in France, Italy, and Spain, but the United States, Australia, and Chile are also among its major producers. According to genetic studies, Chardonnay originated as a cross between Gouais Blanc and Pinot38.
Chardonnay is the most worldwide of white wine grapes, grown in vineyards across Europe, America, and Oceania. Chardonnay is a high-vigour plant that produces low-to-medium yields with careful pruning. The berry develops slowly (making it susceptible to early spring frosts).
Chardonnay is also prone to powdery mildew, phytoplasmas, and botrytis. While its clusters and berries are tiny, they have the ability to produce better fragrant and styled wines (for example, dry and sparkling as well as spirits) with distinctive aromas (such as dried fruit, walnuts, or butter).
Today, Chardonnay grapes are produced in Europe, California, Argentina, Chile, and even Australia and New Zealand.
The soil and climate of the region impact the grapes in unique ways, influencing fragrance, color, acidity, and flavor. The hue of Chardonnay wine varies from straw yellow to golden brown, with undertones of vanilla, hazelnuts, wood, and caramel.
The wine may maintain its acidity and freshness, as well as aromas of apple, pear, peach, and melon with an elegant taste of fresh fruit when aged in steel tanks.
2. Sauvignon Blanc
The French sauvignon blanc is considered one of the world’s most widely cultivated white grapes. The origins of this variety are unknown, although it was originally grown in the Bordeaux region of France before being exported to other parts of the world.
Obviously, the final flavor, scent, and color of the wine are determined by the terroir and winemaking processes; nevertheless, no matter where it’s produced, a great Sauvignon Blanc will be easy to find. Regardless of where they’re grown, Sauvignon Blanc grapes maintain their distinct personality, which translates into pungent scents with a crisp aftertaste that goes wonderful with an infinite variety of foods.
Fans of the legendary Sauvignons from the Loire Valley’s Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé areas, for example François Cotat and the late Didier Dagueneau, would cite producers like as the global standard. The fruit and veggie characteristics are less intense here, and the flinty minerality makes for wines that are wonderfully crisp.
Riesling is one of the most important white grape varieties in the world, coming from Germany, and prefers cold climates. It’s cultivated in virtually every wine-producing region across the world, with Australia, Argentina, and New Zealand being the most prominent nations to utilize it. Riesling is regarded by many as one of the great noble whites on Earth because it creates white wines with a specific feature: excellent aging resistance.
Non-vintage Rieslings are noted for their perfect balance and delicate flavor, whereas vintage Rieslings have a distinct complexity of aromas. Dry Riesling has a straw-yellow color with green highlights, a semi-aromatic scent with hints of fruits and flowers, and is characterized by a distinctive mineral note.
Riesling is an adaptable fruit-forward white wine that may make both bone dry and sweet wines of excellent quality. The finest of these, which are packed with delicate lime, peach, apricot, and apple notes alongside a scorching acidity and minerality, effectively cleanse the palate.
Gewürztraminer is one of the world’s most famous grapes, with a disputed origin attributed to Germany and France. The grapes give an intense wine with excellent balance and elegance.
Grapes grown in colder climates thrive in temperate conditions, while those cultivated in warmer climes adapt readily. Gewürztraminer is commonly cultivated throughout Europe, as well as Chile and Argentina. The final fragrances and tastes are dependent on the terrain, although they are generally complemented with cheeses and foie gras from France, whilst the Argentinean and Chilean wines go well with fish and shellfish.
5. Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a French varietal that isn’t as well-known or popular as the grapes above, but it is adored in many countries. It’s mostly grown in Europe, Chile, Argentina, Australia, California, South Africa, and New Zealand, with tastes and aromas that remind people of Riesling.
The grapes are naturally acidic, with fruity scents of green apple, melon, citrus fruits, and peach.
The new world has been slower to embrace Chenin, with South Africa being the only nation to really embrace it. After years of wasted promise, we are now seeing a rise in the quality and consistency of South African Chenin (or Steen as it is sometimes known), with some fantastic examples emerging.
Torrontés is a popular grape variety in Argentina, and it is also known across Spain. It’s easy to consider Toronté as an indigenous variety. It has a distinct structure and a powerful, passionate personality. Outside of Argentina, it is grown primarily in La Rioja and Mendoza, although a few other countries cultivate it.
The wine isn’t very complex nutritionally from an organoleptic standpoint. And maybe for this reason, it didn’t catch on. Torrontés, nevertheless, has a distinct fragrance with a hint of fresh fruits and a nice fruitiness to it.
This wine, which is produced from the same grapes as Chardonnay, has a lively flavor and a straw yellow hue.
Sémillon is a European grape variety cultivated in Latin America, South Africa, and parts of Oceania. While it isn’t widely grown in the United States, this grape varietal boasts distinct aromas and is used to make rich whites or fortified wines.
The most significant Sémillon wines include Luopiac, which is produced in East Flanders and Wallonia, and Meunier de Touraine, which comes from the Loire Valley. It is frequently blended with Muscadelle and Chenin Blanc types in Latin America and Africa to improve the wine’s complexity.
Serve Sémillon-derived wines with cookies and sweets, chocolate cakes, or nuts for a powerful flavor profile. Serve as a white wine with white meats, vegan meals, and fish.
8. Pinot Blanc
Pinot Blanc is a genetic modification of the world-famous Pinot Noir. The grapes are cultivated in many areas of Europe, particularly in Italy, France, Germany, and Slovakia, and are frequently compared to Chardonnay in terms of flavor and aromas.
Italy and France produce only full-bodied dry wines with undertones of wood, hazelnut, and vanilla using Pinot Blanc.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Pinot Blanc is usually dry or sweet and has notes of fresh fruit, a crisp taste, and a pale straw color.
Glera is a noble white grape variety that is native to Italy and is cultivated exclusively in the Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions for the production of Prosecco, which is a wonderful sparkling wine.
The Glera grape is known for its dark yellow skin and rich scents; in reality, it is so well-known that the Romans mention it in some of their writings.
This grape produces Prosecco, which is a sparkling wine characterized by a crisp taste and a lively bubbly texture. It includes fresh fruity tastes and aromas, as well as a pale yellow color.
Sercial is a white grape variety cultivated in the Madeira province of Portugal. It has a high acidity level and thus influences the wine’s character.
Sercial, on the other hand, is a less popular white grape variety. Despite its low popularity, Sercial is one of the finest grapes. It is presently used almost exclusively for Madeira production, giving it a crisp aftertaste even after years of aging.
The wine is lovely as an aperitif and goes well with dry fruits, cookies, and biscuits. It has a light, dry flavor that chefs like.
11. Pedro Giménez
Pedro Giménez is a popular white grape in Argentina. Only in the Mendoza Province of Argentina and certain parts of Chile are the grapes used to make crisp, light-bodied white wines with medium acidity.
The grapes from which these wines are made are often comparable to Criolla Grande or Cereza, two other indigenous varieties. Despite its modest area of cultivation, Pedro Giménez is recognized all around the world for its excellence.
Riesling wines from this white grape variety taste excellent with crackers and fish, as well as white sauce spaghetti and grilled veggies.
This is a green-skinned, thick-skinned grape. They are native to the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, although the grapes come from Portugal’s eastern provinces.
The acidity of the grapes is due to the maritime climate in this region. Grapes are also cultivated in Oregon, Washington, California’s colder areas, Australia and New Zealand’s cooler regions.
Albarino wines have delicate peach, nectarine, grapefruit, and lemon undertones. The wines are typically fresh-tasting, light-bodied, and dry with fruity aromas. Some bottles are aged in lees or oak. These wines become more full-bodied, creamy, and texturally intriguing as a result of this process.
Albarino wines are ideal with white fish, white flesh, leafy greens, soft and semi-hard cheeses, and tapas.
13. Muscat Blanc A Petitis Grains
This is one of the world’s oldest grapes, belonging to the Muscat genus. These tiny fruits are yellow-skinned. The colors of these berries can range from pink to red, to pale brown.
They can be found in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of France, as well as Versace and Roussillon in Italy. They’re also seen in Greece, California, and Australia’s Piemonte province.
These grapes have a deep, robust flavor. When fermented, you may create a wide range of tastes. This includes dry to sweet, sparkling, and dessert wines.
Drier white varieties have floral and citrus undertones, whereas sparkling varieties have melon, grape, and honeysuckle notes.