Whilst hundreds of grape varieties exist, certain ones are particularly prolific in our favorite white wines. Consider this guide as an introduction to the superstars of the white wine world.
CHARDONNAY: Originating from Burgundy, France, Chardonnay is prominent in white wines like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. It is widely grown in the New World, especially in Australia, New Zealand, and California. Un-oaked Chardonnay, exemplified by Chablis, is dry with a gripping, crisp character. Oaked Chardonnay gains a deeper color and aromas of vanilla and butter. New World Chardonnays, often oaked, may lose some elegance and grip seen in cooler climate wines. Notably, Chardonnay plays a vital role in Champagne, being a key blend component. Some Champagnes, called "Blanc des Blancs," consist solely of Chardonnay, showcasing its versatility.
RIESLING: A grape variety that produces aromatic and highly acidic wines. It can range from dry to sweet and offers flavors of green apple, peach, and floral notes. Riesling is often associated with Germany, but it is grown in several other countries as well.
CHENIN BLANC: This is a versatile white grape variety known for its high acidity and wide range of styles. Originating from the Loire Valley in France, it produces wines that can be dry, off-dry, or sweet, with flavours of apple, honey, and tropical fruits. Chenin Blanc is also grown in South Africa, where it is a signature grape variety.
SEMILLON: A grape variety known for its versatility and ability to age. It is primarily grown in France, particularly in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, as well as in Australia. Semillon wines can be dry or sweet, displaying flavours of lemon, honey, and sometimes lanolin, with a rich, waxy texture.
MOSCATO: Moscato is a sweet white grape variety known for its aromatic and fruity characteristics. It is grown in various regions around the world, including Italy, where it is famously used to produce sparkling Moscato d'Asti. Moscato wines exhibit flavours of peach, apricot, and orange blossom, with a refreshing and lively character.
PINOT GRIS AND PINOT GRIGIO: Sometimes confusing, but essentially these are two names for the same white grape variety. Pinot Gris is used primarily in France, especially in Alsace, producing medium to full-bodied wines with rich flavours of pear, apple, and spice. Pinot Grigio, commonly found in Italy, offers lighter-bodied wines with crisp acidity, citrus notes, and hints of stone fruits.