Last Modified On:
September 12, 2023

A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Types of White Wine

Confused about the different types of white wine? Our beginner's guide covers everything you need to know, from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc.

4 minutes

White wine is one of the most popular types of wine around the world. It's a classic choice that has been enjoyed for centuries, but with so many different varieties available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right type. In this beginner's guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about it. From understanding what white wine is and its history, to diving into the different types of white wines and their styles, we've got you covered. We'll even cover common types of white wines and pairing them with food, as well as tips for storage and serving. By the end of this guide, you'll have all the knowledge you need to confidently select a bottle that suits your taste buds and occasion.

What is White Wine?

As a beginner, understanding the different types of white wine can be overwhelming. At its core, it is a type of wine made from white grapes, although it can also be made from other fruits such as apples or peaches. The color can range from pale straw to golden yellow, depending on the grape variety and winemaking process.

Types of white wine can have varied tastes ranging from dry to sweet. Different regions and winemakers have their unique methods of production that result in distinct flavors and aromas. Common types of white wine include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. Understanding the basic types of white wines is a great way to explore this fascinating world of grapes.

Brief History

White wine has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. It is made from the juice of white or green grapes, and the fermentation process gives it a unique flavor profile. There are different types such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling, each with its own distinct taste and aroma. Beginners should understand these types before trying them out.

white wine types

Understanding Types of White Wine

Each with its own unique flavors and styles, let's discuss the types of white wine below:

When it comes to understanding types of white wine, one category to consider is light-bodied types of white wines. Light-bodied types of white wine have crisp and refreshing qualities with delicate flavors. Examples include Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. They pair well with seafood or salads, best served chilled for summer sipping or outdoor gatherings. Consider the region and grape variety when selecting a light-bodied option.

Full-bodies are a popular option that are heavier and richer in flavor compared to other varieties. Full-bodied types of white wine like Chardonnay, Viognier, and Roussanne are bold and flavorful. They types of white wine pair well with meals that have rich and creamy sauces or bolder flavors. These wines are aged in oak barrels, which gives them a unique flavor profile. To choose the perfect full-bodied option, consider the region where it was produced and the specific grape varietal characteristics.

Different Styles

Understanding the differences between each style can help you find the right white wines type to suit your palate preferences or complement specific food pairings. There are four styles and we'll break them down below:

  • Dry: Dry types of white wine has low sugar and is not sweet. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay are common examples. They're great with seafood, chicken dishes, and salads due to their crispness and acidity. Serve chilled for maximum flavor. If you prefer sweeter options, semi-dry or sweet variations may suit you better. But trying dry options is an excellent way to explore different types of white wine.
  • Off-Dry: When it comes to understanding the different types of white wine, it's important to take a closer look at off-dry wines. Off-dry types of white wines are slightly sweet but not as intense as dessert wines. They pair well with spicy foods and can balance out the heat. Made from grape varietals like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Chenin Blanc, the sweetness level varies based on the winemaking process. Choose off-dry white wine types that complements your meal by paying attention to its sweetness level.
  • Sweet: Sweet white wine types like Moscato, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc have a higher sugar content, giving them their distinct sweetness. They can be paired with spicy foods or desserts and are great for those who prefer a sweeter taste. Serve chilled for optimal flavor. Enjoy on its own or pair with specific dishes for a unique taste experience.
  • Sparkling: Beginners should know about sparkling white wine types. It's carbonated, and its sweetness can vary based on the producer. Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava are popular types. They're perfect for celebrations or light appetizers due to their refreshing taste and fizzy mouthfeel. Chill and handle the bottle carefully while serving. With the right temperature and care, sparkling wine adds excitement to any gathering or meal.
types of white wines

Common Types of White Wines List

White wine types comes in various styles and flavors. We'll break down a few different types of white wines below:


Chardonnay is a white wines type that has gained immense popularity owing to its versatility. Originating in Burgundy, France, it is now one of the most widely produced wines in the world. The wine is usually aged in oak barrels, which gives it a creamy and buttery taste. Depending on how it's made and where it's grown, Chardonnay can range from light and crisp to full-bodied and oaky. Chardonnay makes for an excellent choice with seafood, poultry, and creamy sauces, making it a great accompaniment for many types of meals. In addition to these traditional pairings, Chardonnay also pairs well with spicy dishes such as Thai or Indian cuisine. When selecting a Chardonnay, consider the region where the wine was produced as different regions produce different styles of Chardonnay. For example, Chardonnays from Napa will have a more prominent buttery flavor due to their aging process in oak barrels while those from Australia tend to be more fruity and acidic. Overall, Chardonnay remains one of the most popular white wines types globally because of its smoothness and versatility.

Sauvignon Blanc

One of the most popular and versatile types of white wine is Sauvignon Blanc. Known for its crisp acidity and herbaceous flavors, this wine originated in the Bordeaux region of France but is now grown in many parts of the world, including New Zealand, California, and South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc can be enjoyed as a solo drink or paired with a variety of foods, such as seafood, poultry, and salads. It is often described as having notes of green apple, grapefruit, and grassy undertones. These types of white wines is best served chilled and is perfect for warm summer days when you want a refreshing beverage to cool off with.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio, also referred to as Pinot Gris, is one of the most popular white wine types. This light-bodied grape has its roots in Italy and is known for its refreshing and crisp taste. It is a popular choice as an aperitif or to accompany seafood. The flavor profile of Pinot Grigio can vary depending on where it is grown, but it typically has notes of citrus and green apple. Its versatility and easy-drinking nature make it a great choice for both casual gatherings and formal occasions.


One of the most common types of white wine is Riesling, which originated in Germany. These types of white wine is known for its floral and fruity aromas, as well as its high acidity. One of the unique features of Riesling is that it can range from dry to sweet, making it a versatile option for pairing with different types of food.

In addition to being a great option for pairing with food, Riesling is also a popular choice for aging. Some Rieslings are able to age for decades, developing complex flavors over time. Riesling grapes are grown in many regions around the world, including Germany, Austria, Australia, and the United States.

Muscat Blanc (Moscato)

Muscat Blanc, also known as Moscato, is a sweet option with a distinct fruity aroma. It is made from the Muscat grape, one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. Muscat Blanc is often paired with desserts but can also be enjoyed on its own as an aperitif. This white wines type is available in both still and sparkling varieties, making it a versatile option for different occasions. With its sweetness and fruity notes, Muscat Blanc is popular among those who prefer sweeter types of white wine.


Another example of common types of white wine, Sémillon is a popular grape variety grown in France and Australia. It has a full-bodied texture with notes of honey, apricot, and lemon. Often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, it is an essential component of Bordeaux Blanc, a famous French white wine. Aging Sémillon in oak barrels adds a creamy texture to the wine. Due to its rich flavor profile and creamy texture, Sémillon pairs well with seafood, poultry, and dishes with creamy sauces. It can also be enjoyed on its own or paired with various other dishes. In addition to being used for still wines, Sémillon is also commonly used in the production of sweet wines due to its high sugar content. Overall, Sémillon is an excellent choice for those who enjoy full-bodied white wines types with complex flavors.


Gewürztraminer is a distinctive white wines type variety originating from Germany, now grown in many countries. It's known for its unique floral and spicy aroma, derived from the grapes' pinkish-red hue. This wine pairs well with spicy foods and strong flavors, and is also used in dessert wines for its sweet and fruity notes. Whether you're new to wine or a seasoned drinker, Gewürztraminer's versatility makes it worth trying out.


Albariño, a white wines type, is primarily grown in Spain's Rías Baixas region. Its crisp acidity and refreshing taste offer a range of flavors from citrus to stone fruit, making it an excellent pairing for seafood, salads, and light pasta dishes. It can also be enjoyed as an aperitif or on its own. Albariño has gained popularity in recent years and is now produced in regions like California and New Zealand. Whether you're a seasoned drinker or new to the world of grape, Albariño is worth trying.

Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is a popular white wines type variety grown primarily in Austria. It's dry, acidic and has flavors of citrus, green apple, and pepper. This versatile wine pairs well with seafood, salads, and spicy dishes. It's often compared to Riesling due to its high acidity levels and ability to age well. Grüner Veltliner is gaining popularity in other wine-producing regions such as New Zealand and the United States.

Pinot Blanc

A often forgotten but favorite white wines type: Pinot Blanc is known for its refreshing taste and crisp acidity. It is commonly grown in France, Germany, and Italy. While it shares a similar flavor profile with Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc typically has less oak influence. This makes it a popular choice for those who prefer a lighter, more delicate type.

Pinot Blanc pairs well with seafood dishes and light appetizers due to its bright acidity and citrusy notes. It can be enjoyed young or aged, but it should always be served chilled to fully appreciate its flavors.

Grenache Blanc

Grenache Blanc, also known as Garnacha Blanca, is a popular wine grape found in France, Spain, and the US. It has flavors of green apple, lemon, and pear with a crisp acidity and medium body. Grenache Blanc pairs well with seafood dishes like shrimp scampi or grilled fish as well as light summer fare. This white wines type also pairs great with mussels, lobster, and other shellfish dishes. It's best served chilled and perfect for outdoor gatherings during warm weather months. Its refreshing taste makes it a popular choice among wine enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.


Garganega is a common types of white wine, primarily grown in Italy's Veneto region. Soave is a dry and crisp wine with notes of lemon and almond made using this grape. Garganega blends well with other varietals to create complex wines due to its thick skin's disease resistance and ability to thrive in cooler climates. Garganega wines pair well with seafood, light pasta dishes, and salads, making it ideal for enthusiasts looking to expand their repertoire.


Marsanne, from northern Rhône in France, is often blended with Roussanne and Viognier to add complexity. It has a full-bodied texture with flavors of honey, nuts, and stone fruit. With aging, the wines develop more complex flavors. Marsanne is grown not only in France but also in Australia and California. It's an excellent choice for those who prefer full-bodied types of white wines with rich flavor profiles.


Viognier is a white wines type that is primarily grown in the Rhône Valley of France. It is known for producing full-bodied, aromatic wines with flavors of stone fruit, floral notes, and sometimes a hint of spice. Viognier can also have a slightly oily texture, which contributes to its rich mouthfeel. It has gained popularity in recent years and can now be found in wine regions around the world.

white wines types

Frequently Asked Questions on White Wine Types

What type of white wine is the smoothest?

The smoothest types of white wines can vary depending on personal preference, but generally, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are known for their smoothness due to their lower acidity and fuller body. Other smooth wines include Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne.

What Temperature Should White Wine Be Served At?

White wine should be served chilled, but not too cold. The ideal temperature for serving is between 45-55°F (7-13°C). Serving it too cold can mask its flavor and aroma, while serving it too warm can make it taste flat and dull.

What type of white wine is most popular?

There is no single types of white wines that is universally the most popular, as preferences vary by region and individual taste. However, some commonly popular types of white wine include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling.

White Wines Types: Conclusion

Whether you prefer light-bodied or full-bodied types of white wine, a dry or sweet one, or even a sparkling one, the world of grapes has something for everyone. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know which types of white wine to choose and how to store and serve it properly. However, with this white wine types beginner's guide, you now have a better understanding of the different types of white wine and their common pairings with food. So next time you're in the mood for some grape vine, grab a bottle of your favorite white wines type and enjoy it with your meal.