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White wines are so underestimated! Think about it – when was the last time you actively searched for different white wine grapes to try out? We think the answer for most people is “I can’t even remember.”
Truth is, white wines are often thought of as “simple, day-drinking, uncomplicated, every-day” wines, so it’s easier to stick to the popular grapes that we already know (yes, I’m talking about the usual suspects – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio).
It’s time we change that! Here are the basics about ten white wine varietals that should definitely be on your radar.
Greco di Tufo
Where’s Greco di Tufo from
Greco di Tufo is one of the greatest vines of Campania (Southern Italy), so ancient that it has been cultivated in what was once the Magna Graecia for more than 2000 years.
What Greco di Tufo wines taste like
Greco di Tufo wines are anything but boring! Warm, sumptuous, structured, sometimes rebellious, but always with great personality and depth.
The classic aromas of Greco di Tufo are intense: peach, quince, almonds, honey, and yellow flowers. It is a bold wine, not at all subtle.
On the palate, it is alive and shows strength and acidity. It’s a sunny wine with many contrasting flavors that intertwine in amazing harmony.
Who should try Greco di Tufo
Greco di Tufo will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you’re ready to step up your white wine drinking game and try something that challenges your palate
- you love fall fruits and flavors – quince, pears, apples
- you love spicy curries – this wine pairs beautifully with spicy, coconut milk curries
Where’s Vermentino from
The grape originates from the Liguria region, in north-western Italy. However, nowadays, 50% of the Vermentino production worldwide, and some of the best examples out there, comes from the island of Sardinia (Sardegna).
What Vermentino wines taste like
If Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc had a baby, … it would be Vermentino!
Very light and with medium-high acidity, this wine is perfect for the summer. A glass of classic Sardinia Vermentino will offer up lively aromas of pear, white peach, lime, and grapefruit with subtle notes of crushed rocks and citrus zest.
Who should try Vermentino
Vermentino will be your new favorite white wine if:
- You love pesto pasta – both Pesto and Vermentino have their origins in the same region in Italy, and Vermentino is considered the ultimate pairing for this dish
- You love all things citrus
- You’re looking for a new poolside refreshing white wine
Where’s Manzoni Bianco from
Manzoni Bianco is an Italian grape, but unlike the thousands of native Italian grapes that just grow spontaneously, Manzoni was actually created in a lab in 1930 by Professor Luigi Manzoni from the Viticulture and Oenology School of Conegliano
The varietal is the result of a crossing of Riesling and Pinot Bianco.
Most commonly, this white wine grape is found in the regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The most recognized Manzoni Bianco label is the Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco, produced by the beloved winemaker Elisabeta Foradori in trentino.
What Manzoni Bianco taste like
Manzoni Bianco wines are what we usually refer to as “serious white wine”: white wines with the body, structure, and complexity of a red.
Part of the allure of Manzoni Bianco is its fine balance. From Pinot Bianco, the wine gets its round, full body and plump fruit characteristics; from Riesling comes bright acidity and a tendency towards minerality. The combination of those attributes creates an unique style of wine that most closely resembles a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, or warm climate Sémillon.
Who should try Manzoni Bianco wines
Manzoni Bianco will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you’re into natural and biodynamic wines – Foradori Winery is one of the top natural wine producers in the world
- you want a white wine that you can enjoy on a cold winter night
- you trust our suggestion when we say: Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco is the best white wines we ever tried
Where’s Grillo from
Grillo is the signature white grape of Sicily (Southern Italy), and many believe it’s the best expression of the Sicilian sun and sea in a glass.
What Grillo wines taste like
Think of Grillo as Pinot Grigio’s groovy cousin. Grillo wines are crisp and savory, medium to full-body. They have a floral, herbal aroma followed by nutty, fruit-driven flavors that include peach, lemon, and apple.
Grillo has become a viable contender for the quintessential Italian table white: fresh, easy-drinking, and often associated with very good value.
Who should try Grillo
Grillo will be your new favorite white wine if:
- You enjoy mineral and savory white wines
- You enjoy Mediterranean influenced gastronomy
- You love all things Sicilian
Listan Blanco (aka Palomino)
Where’s Listan Blanco from
Listan Blanco is a native Spanish grape, known in Mexico as Palomino. The varietal was brought to the Canary Islands in the 18th Century, and today that’s where you can find the most unique and exciting wines produced with this grape.
What Listan Blanco wines taste like
In the Canary Islands, Listan Blanco takes on a unique Atlantic intensity, fusing power with dazzling acidity and minerality.
These wines are powerful and textured, with notes of lemon curd, bitter lemon, and green apple skin with amazing vibrancy and freshness. These are true volcanic wines at their best!
Who should try Listan Blanco
Listan Blanco will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you love super mineral wines
- you enjoy Sherry (the dessert wine) – Listan Blanco is the same grape used in Sherry, just vinified as a dry wine
Where’s Gruner Veltliner from
Gruner Veltliner is an indigenous Austrian grape, and it’s the most planted and popular varietal from Austria. Aside from its homeland, Gruner is also the most planted grape in Eslovaquia and the second most grown grape in the Czech Republic.
Gruner Veltliner became the “it” grape in trendy wine bars in the United States during the early 2000s when many sommeliers fell in love with its freshness and versatility – aside from red meats, Gruner can be paired with almost any food!
The international popularity of the wine grew significantly after a 2002 wine tasting competition in which the Austrian Grüner Veltliner beat out French grand cru wines.
What Gruner Veltliner wines taste like
At first review, Gruner Veltliner is very similar to Sauvignon Blanc, with high acidity, citrus notes such as lime, grapefruit, and lemon, followed by an herbaceous finish. However, Gruner Vetliner has a sharp, mouth-watering acidity that sets it apart.
You’ll find two styles of Gruner Veltliner – one is an unpretentious, thirst-quenching wine, usually on the more affordable side and designed to be drunk very young (no more than 2 years after release).
The second style is made from the highest quality grapes and is much more complex in nature, with a faint creaminess and notes of honey. These wines are usually aged in oak and in bottle for around 3-6 years before release. High-quality Gruner Veltliner can easily rival some of the best Burgundy cru white wines.
Who should try Gruner Veltliner
Gruner Veltliner will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you enjoy bone-dry wines
- you love Sancerre and dry Riesling
Where’s Caprettone from
Capretonne is a very popular Italian wine grape from Campania, in Southern Italy, where it’s used to produce volcanic wines under the Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC, Caprettone Vesuvio DOC.
As the DOC names suggest, Caprettone grapes are planted in the foothills of Mount Vesuvius.
What Caprettone wines taste like
Talking about Caprettone grapes means talking about the Campania terroir, and the influence of the volcanic soils on the wines. These are not your everyday white wines, and will definitely challenge your palate.
The white wines from this region are unlike any other, due to their super savory and very linear minerality across aromas and palate.
Who should try Caprettone wines
Caprettone will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you never pass up on a chance to enjoy Chablis with fresh oysters
- you love the smell of rain on dry asphalt
- you love challenging your palate with unexpected flavors
Where’s Aligoté from
Aligoté is “the other” Burgundy white wine grape, second to Chardonnay. The grape is native to Burgundy, and DNA testing has found Aligoté to be a crossing of Pinot noir and Gouais blanc (another weird French wine grape).
Nowadays, it has its own 2 French AOCs: Bourgogne Aligoté and Bouzeron. While both produce excellent wines, Bouzeron is where you’ll find some of the more complex and age-worthy Aligoté wines.
What Aligoté tastes like
In general, it’s a dry white wine, fresh and meant to be drunk young.
We love its liveliness and lightness. It’s fresh and frank, with aromas of grapes, green apples and lemons. In the palate it can be savory, almost salty.
Who should try Aligoté:
Aligoté will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you prefer Prosecco over Champagne
- you used to love Pinot Grigio, but lately it just tastes too simple (you want more!)
- you love Burgundy wines and are shocked that this grape was not on your radar until now
Where’s Semillon from
It’s a grape from Southwest France, primarily Bordeaux. Most white wines from the Pessac-Léognan, Graves and Bordeaux Blanc AOC appellations are Semillon based.
If you enjoy French wines, you’ll be surprised to learn that Semillon is the 3rd most planted white wine grape in France, just behind Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s used mostly in blends, and it’s also the main grape used in the delicious Sauternes dessert wines.
Today it’s planted in several countries around the world, but the top regions for this grape are Bordeaux and Hunter Valley in Australia.
What Semillon wines taste like
Semillon wines are usually medium-bodied, fruit-forward, and low in acidity. However, Semillon wines produced in warmer climates (or vintages) are dramatically different from wines produced in cold climates. Depending on where Semillon is grown it can range from being a zesty, palate-cleansing wine like Sauvignon Blanc to a rich, creamy, lemon-flavored wine like oaky Chardonnay.
There’s a waxy aspect in Semillon wines that wine writers aptly describe as lanolin or wool wax (if you ever used it for ointments, you’ll recognize it immediately in the wine).
Although there are some 100% semillon wines out there, you’ll mostly see Semillon + Sauvignon Blanc blends. The depth and fruit in the Semillon, blended with the high acidity and freshness of Sauvignon Blanc create a great balance.
Who should try Semillon
Semillón will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you enjoy raw honeycomb
- you’re looking for the perfect sushi pairing (the raw fish and ginger combination brings this wine to a whole new level)
- you enjoy lemon curd
Where’s Müller-Thurgau From
Müller-Thurgau was bred in a lab by Herman Muller in 1882, in the Grape Breeding Department at Geisenheim University (Germany). It’s a cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royale.
Oddly as it may sound, the growth of Müller-Thurgau wines is closely intertwined with the story of post-war Germany.
In the bleak postwar years, when Germany was economically devastated, Müller-Thurgau offered advantages that proved essential: it’s an early ripener, which allows it to be harvested before the fall rains; it’s a reliable yielder and does its best in a cool climate, which Germany most certainly had back then. Check out Trink Mag for an in-depth overview of Müller-Thurgau’s story.
Today, Müller-Thurgau is planted in several countries, but the best examples come from Germany and northern Italy (Alto-Adige and Friuli).
What Müller-Thurgau wines taste like
Müller-Thurgau’s trademark is its sweet peach aromas. It’s a wine with low acidity and a range of fruity flavors.
In the mouth, it’s dry and fresh, lively, with hints of citrus but good balance. When done right, it will have a delicious almond finish.
Who should try Müller-Thurgau wines
Muller-Thurgau will be your new favorite white wine if:
- you’re into aromatic wines (Riesling, Pinot Gris, etc)
- you love peach cobbler
- you’re fascinated by the intersection of wine, culture, and history