Chardonnay is America's number one selling white wine varietal. The Chardonnay grape itself contributes to the wine's world-wide popularity. It is a relatively “low-maintenance” vine that adapts well to a variety of climates, resulting in fairly high yields. These high yields translate into millions of bottles of Chardonnay wines. Because of its large competition, you can buy a good bottle of Chardonnay for under $15. Chardonnay has an impressive range of flavors from the typically expected buttered, oak overtones to the fresh, fruit flavors of apple, pear, tropical, citrus and melon, leaving a lasting palate impression. Chardonnay pairs well with poultry dishes, pork, seafood or recipes that have a heavy cream or butter base. Also pair unoaked Chardonnay with guacamole, garlic, some salads, and grilled shrimp or even curry dishes. With a long and distinguished following, from rich, buttery Chardonnay that boast power and presence to the unoaked fruit-forward Chardonnay that allow the varietal character and expression to be in the spotlight. If you prefer a big buttery Chardonnay then look for ones that have been through malolactic fermentation, as they will yield a specific compound called diacetyl, which makes up the dominant scent of fake butter used in microwave popcorn and imitation butter flavorings also used in baked goods.
Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Loire Valley of France. However, New Zealand has taken this grape to new heights in the cool Marlborough region, producing tasty wines with lots of tropical fruit and gooseberry flavors. It is usually a dry white wine with distinctive herbaceous qualities. This wine is widely available as a single varietal or as a blend with Semillon as well. This is most often a light to medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing white wine with notable acidity. It offers a fairly wide range of flavors. From herbal taste sensations to veggie, and from flavors of grass, new mown hay and mineral tones to a citrus and tropical flavor mix, and displays a very unique wine tasting adventure. Sauvignon Blanc is a very food-friendly wine and terrific for appetizers such as artichoke dip, veggie dishes or dips, garlic or Italian seasonings in creamy sauces, typically fragrant salads - like Greek, Caesar or Garden, Thai food, fish (sushi), poultry and much more.
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
This is Italy's most popular white wine produced from the Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris grape varietal. This wine comes from the northeast region of Veneto and Friuli. A very light, crisp white wine that is intended to be consumed young. Pinot Grigio flavors can range from melon to pear and some even offer a subtle tropical or citrus fruit, often there is a honey or smoky flavor component as well. As for the typical color, Pinot Grigio is generally a pale, straw-like yellow with some golden hues thrown in. The texture of a Pinot Grigio is worth noting, as it has very smooth, almost silk-like overtones that leave an impression on the palate and is liked world-wide. Pinot Grigio pairs nicely with seafood, light or white pastas and cheese cracker combinations. Since this wine is fairly acidic itself, avoid pairing with foods that have high acid contents, like citrus fruits or tomato-based recipes.
Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco
Normally a medium-dry to dry white wine that originated in the Alsace region of France (known as Pinot Blanc in France and Pinot Bianco in Italy). Generally oak is not used in the maturation process of Pinot Blanc. It is a lighter flavored white wine with citrus, melon, pear, apricot and perhaps smoky or mineral undertones combined with characteristic high acidity. It pairs well with seafood, light-flavored meats, light-medium sauces and mild-flavored cheese choices.
A versatile grape from France’s Loire Valley, also grown with much success in California and South Africa. This white wine can range from dry to very sweet depending on the time of harvest, producing flavors that vary from apple, melon, lime and pear with hints of vanilla and honey. The best Chenin Blanc offers high acidity combined with a touch of viscosity – leaving an oil-like mouth feel. Pairs well with salads, mild to spicy rice dishes, sushi, seafood and white meats.
Among wine lovers, chefs and sommeliers this varietal receives exceptional attention for its out-going, food-friendly character. Riesling has gained an international spotlight, in large part due to its amicable, food-pairing versatility. As palates prefer a wider variety of food flavors, wines that can fit a broader food-pairing bill will see an increase in demand. This is where Riesling fits in the picture; it would be difficult to find a more accommodating wine for a broader range of food. If you are looking for a no fail wine for an appetizer table, Riesling is there for you. If you've got a spicy Thai dish - again it's a Riesling that will bail you out. Middle Eastern to Mexican cuisine, it's Riesling to the rescue. Not to mention desserts, salads, standard poultry or pork dishes, where Riesling partners perfectly. Rieslings are known for pairing well with the likes of Chinese food, Cajun cuisine, Tex-Mex (with cilantro), roasted pork, roasted duck or goose, seafood, Thai food and even salad dressings with vinegar.
Moscato tends to be a popular white wine among new wine lovers and enjoys a significant following with seasoned wine enthusiasts who enjoy a lighter-styled wine with brunch, dessert or on its own as a capable aperitif. This unique wine is often labeled simply as "Moscato" or if it's bred and born in Italy's Northwest region of Piedmont, its seen sporting its full name of Moscato d'Asti (named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti). A close relative of Piedmont's Asti Spumante, Moscato d'Asti is generally produced in smaller quantities and in a more delicate style than Spumante. Moscato needs to be served well chilled and is downright delicious with apple desserts, fresh berries, summer salads, meringue pies, peach cobbler, hazelnut desserts and lemon-poppy breads and cakes. While dessert is Moscato's forte, cheese courses, charcuterie or antipasto plates can be perfect pairings for Moscato d'Asti wines.
The primary white grape grown in Spain's coastal Rias Baixes wine region. It is a lovely, albeit quirky white wine grape that makes highly aromatic white wines with fantastic acidity. Food-friendly and on the palate you will typically be able to identify apple, pear, and/or citrus nuances in Albarino based wines. Albarino wines are made to be consumed young and go extraordinarily well with many appetizers, Cajun fare, poultry, shellfish and grilled fish.
Can be made in dry or sweet varieties and are generally best if enjoyed sooner rather than later post-bottling. Flavors qualities include honey, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, apricot, pear, and rose. This wine tends to pair well with spicy Asian dishes or zesty-flavored fare like BBQ or chicken wings. The flavor and aromas often include rose, pear, citrus, spice and mineral.
Viognier has been known to exhibit apple, apricot, and citrus and peach characteristics. The choice of drinkers and growers alike. The last ten years has seen a massive increase in Viognier production throughout the world and more recently we have begun to see bottles on our supermarket shelves - challenging the monopoly of Chardonnay. Viognier goes well with Goat cheese. It is also often paired with Beef and Seafood. The associated blends include blends with dessert wine. Pairs well such as Indian or Moroccan cuisines braised chicken or stuffed trout, and ingredients that pick up fruit and spice flavors. Also root veggies, pastas, grains, oily nuts, crab, and lobster. Try not to pair it with lighter food.