7 varieties of white wine

As a continuation of the last blog post I wrote on wine, I’m going to list 7 of the more common varieties of white wine and some characteristics that go along with them. This will give you a better idea of knowing what a guest of yours would like, just by having a general idea of what each grape tastes like. I will also include some basic options for food pairing with each variety.

varieties of white wine

Once again, like the last blog post “How wine is made” I’m not going to waste your time by getting into complex details and overload you with information that in a restaurant setting may not particularly be necessary. It is purely up to you if you would like to learn more in-depth information about regions, history etc. I’m just here to help give you a guideline for suggesting wine to your guests on what they would enjoy, and in return should help bump up your average check total, which means more money for you, Hooray!

So let’s see the list of the 7 wines I’m going to put up here.

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Gewurztraminer
  3. Moscato
  4. Pinot Grigio
  5. Riesling
  6. Sauvignon Blanc
  7. Semillon

I’m sure you have heard of the first one listed (if you haven’t where have you been?).


(Shar-do-nay) Chardonnay is a grape that can be made into either a still or sparkling wine. Probably one of the most common grapes known, it can range from crisp, dry, buttery lighter styles right up to full-bodied.

Flavors: Typically lemon, peach, grapefruit and apples. If aged in oak it can have vanilla, walnut, toast and coconut flavors.

Food pairing: Like most white wines, chardonnay is best matched with fish (including salmon with some chardonnays) and chicken.


(Gah-vurtz-tra-meener) This grape variety has a strong scent to it. It is known to be served as a stand alone wine, but is usually blended with other varieties.

Flavors: Fruity flavors with aromas of allspice, lychee, peach and rose.

Food pairing: Some grilled meats like sausage and pork, as well as an array of Asian food.


(Just as it looks, Mos-ca-to) The grapes themselves range from white to black in color, Moscato is known for its sweetness and generally has a lower alcoholic content.

Flavors: Fruity flavors like pear, apple, orange, lime, peach and apricot.

Food pairing: It’s best as a stand alone wine, no food required (glug, glug, glug) or to have with dessert, which makes it a good up-sell for you.

Pinot Grigio

(Pee-no-gree-zho) This variety is also known as Pinot Gris (Pee-no-gree) in Italian styles. Depending on the region these are grown in, the grapes can create a distinctively different taste. Normally consumed early, some Pinot Grigio wines can be aged and are usually a lighter bodied wine.

Flavors: Dry with some acidity to them with flavors of melon, pear and apple. Some can have a peppery taste with some crispness to it (I sound like a snob).

Food pairing: Best to go with spicy Chinese or Thai foods.


(Rhee-zling) A very common grape which is the kind of wine for those who like something sweeter, without having to go to the next level of a dessert wine. It’s used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling wines. Rarely are Riesling grapes fermented in barrels, instead they are better in stainless steel vats.

Flavors: Flowery and tropical fruits are the more common flavors of a Riesling wine, with high acidity and sugars.

Food pairing: Pork and white fish dishes are best suited to Riesling and go well the Thai, Japanese and Chinese spices.

Sauvignon Blanc

(So-veen-yawn blahn) This is a pretty common go-to wine for many white wine drinkers. These grapes are also used as a blend with a lot of other varieties, even in dessert wines. It also gets referred to as “Fume Blanc”

Flavors: From tropical fruits like melon, mango and blackcurrant to sour green fruits of apples, pears and gooseberries. It’s generally a crisp, fresh wine if you were to choose a few words to describe it to your guests.

Food pairing: Great with salads, chicken and seafood.


(Se-mee-yawn) Semillon is commonly mixed together with Sauvignon Blanc, but as a stand alone wine is one of the more underrated varietals.

Flavors: Ranging from stone fruits like apricot, mango, nectarine and peach for sweeter Semillon, and citrus, honey and nuts for a dryer Semillon.

Food pairing: I always remember that Semillon goes great with mussels, clams and some lighter white fish.

So there is a basic breakdown of some of the more common white wine varieties that you may or may not serve in your restaurant. If you can guide your guests towards a wine because you know the basic characteristics, they will appreciate that you took the time to recommend something for them (if they ask) and you will look like an expert just from knowing these basics on the wine you’re talking about.

Most of the time people will drink whatever wine you put in front of them, as long as it’s the same color to what they ordered :).

I’ll be publishing a blog post on common red wine varieties soon too.

Some other posts I wrote that relate to this topic are:

“How wine is made” and “7 varieties of red wine”

Cheers, and have an awesome day.


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This entry was posted on April 4, 2013 and is filed under New servers.