Every Major Type Of White Wine You Would Ever Need To Know

Some seem to think that red wine is always the go-to option for real wine lovers, but that's far from the truth. While reds are often recognized for their fullness and tannin, white wines can be equally interesting with their minerality, acidity, and crispness. We love bringing white wine to the beach or a summertime picnic, and they're usually just what you're looking for when you want to pair wine and seafood. If you haven't found a white wine you like yet, it may be because you haven't been trying the right varieties. There are so many different white wines to choose from, but we're going to cover 10 of the most common types you'll find at wine shops and grocery store shelves.

And what is the best way to find out which white wines you like? Simply taste as many of them as you can. Opt for different bottles when you're picking out what to drink with dinner, and don't be afraid to try something new. Soon, you'll find out which whites you really love (but you never have to stop exploring when it comes to wine.) Here are some of the major white wines you need to know about.

1. Sauvignon Blanc

Perhaps one of the most familiar grapes of them all, Sauvignon Blanc, is a favorite amongst many white wine drinkers. According to VinePair, it's known for its "grassiness," which features an iconic acidity that will make you want to drink glass after glass of the stuff. Per Wine Folly, it's commonly grown in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley of France, but as a common grape, it can be found all over the world. Generally, it produces a super-dry wine with a hint of lime zest.

While we love Sauvignon Blanc with a wide variety of foods, its grassiness makes it a no-brainer for pairing with salads or herb-heavy dishes. It's a great choice for seafood and bivalves, and it can brighten up chicken, pork, or turkey. It's a great option for oily or butter-heavy foods because the bright acidity of the wine will cut through that fat. If white wines turn you off because you think of them as too sweet or too single-noted, there's a good chance you'll be able to find a Sauvignon Blanc you love.

2. Chardonnay

According to Wine-Searcher, Chardonnay is the world's most popular white wine. Because it's so widely produced, these wines can vary greatly from region to region and winemaker to winemaker. When the grapes are grown in a colder climate, they tend to result in notes of green apple and often have a minerality to them. However, Chardonnays from warmer climates are generally fruitier, more "tropical," and may have an oaky finish to them (if they were finished in oak barrels). Many of these varieties are grown in countries like South Africa and Argentina. Chardonnay does not need to be aged, per VinePair — it's ready to drink not long after it's bottled.

"Wine Folly: Magnum Edition" says that oaky Chardonnay pairs well with creamy, rich foods — think anything with a bechamel sauce. However, if you're eating lighter dishes like seafood, you may want to look for Chardonnay made in a steel tank instead of an oak barrel.

3. Riesling

These days, Riesling often gets a bad rap for being too sweet and generally unenjoyable. But that's not necessarily fair to this popular wine variety. While Rieslings can be sweet, these German wines are also known for their sharp acidity, per MasterClass. In fact, this sweetness is often intentional, as it helps balance out the intense acidity. You may also notice an aroma of gasoline. While that may not sound pleasant (and it may not be what you're looking for), MasterClass tells us that a gasoline-like smell is generally an indicator of quality when it comes to Rieslings.

It's easy to find a sweet Riesling, but there are other options as well. Riesling from France, the United States, and Austria will tend toward the drier side, though they may still cling to some of that sweetness. There's also sparkling Riesling, also known as sekt (via Wine Enthusiast). This semi-sweet sparkling wine is a lot of fun if you can find it, and it provides a nice alternative to fizzy wines like Champagne or Cava. With so many Riesling varieties to choose from, don't limit yourself!

4. Pinot Grigio

Chardonnay may be the most popular white wine, but what about the second most popular? That's where Pinot Grigio falls, per VinePair. It's light and crisp, not unlike Sauvignon Blanc, and it's ideal on a warm summer day. While Pinot Grigio might sound like it originated in Italy, that's actually not true — it's from France. However, in French, Pinot Grigio is called Pinot Gris. So, if you see a bottle that reads "Pinot Gris," you'll know that it's the Pinot Grigio grape and that it comes from France.

According to Usual Wines, Pinot Grigio sometimes gets a bad rap. Because it's such a popular wine, it can be overproduced, so it's common to find boring, kind of basic Pinot Grigios on the market. Of course, not every Pinot Grigio falls into this category — many are as interesting, creative, and sippable as can be. If you're looking for a white wine with a lot of acidity that's not too sweet, you may want to look for an Italian Pinot. A Pinot Gris from France is likely to be more full-bodied with notes of tropical fruits. And New World Pinot Grigio is a bit less acidic. Armed with this knowledge, you'll have a better idea of what you should pick the next time you're shopping for a Pinot Grigio.

5. Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc may be a little less common than most of the other white wines we've already covered here, but you still won't have a hard time finding it at most wine stores and wine aisles. It's such a popular grape mainly because of its versatility — it can make a wide range of wines with different characteristics, per Wine Folly. It tends to be refreshing and acidic, but some Chenins have some oakiness to them. Over half of the world's Chenin comes from South Africa, making this an interesting find if you're not used to wines from that country.

Are you wondering what to pair your next bottle of Chenin with at the dinner table? Wine Folly has some excellent ideas. Since this wine is often both sweet and acidic, it goes well with dishes that share the same characteristics. Sweet and sour Chinese–American food makes a fun combo. You may also find it goes well with white meat that sometimes lacks moisture, like chicken breast or turkey.

6. Moscato

It's not for everyone, but if you prefer a wine that's on the sweeter side, you'll generally do well to check out a Moscato. According to VinePair, Moscato has gained significant popularity in the United States not because of the diligent work of sommeliers but because it's a commonly referenced wine in hip-hop lyrics. In fact, because of this influence, Moscato is now the fastest growing wine in the U.S. Who knew Drake could influence wine sales so much?

When you open a bottle of Moscato, you should taste notes of orange blossoms and stone fruit like peaches, per Wine Folly. While you can find plenty of still Moscatos, a sparkling wine called Moscato d'Asti from the Piedmont region of Italy may be what you're looking for if you're feeling bubbly that evening. It's got a low alcohol content, so it's the kind of drink you can sip on all night without feeling the adverse effects the next morning.

7. Viognier

There are plenty of white wines known to be light and spritzy, but what if you're looking for something more substantial in your glass? That's where Viognier comes in. If you like Chardonnay, you definitely have to give this white wine a chance. Wine Folly says that you can expect flavors like tangerine, peach, and mango while drinking this wine, which should give you some clues to its intense juiciness. However, some Viognier can be even more decadent with notes of spices and vanilla, so there's something for everyone. Generally, you can expect Viognier to be on the drier end of the spectrum, so don't worry about too much sweetness with a bottle of this stuff.

If you're searching for your first bottle of Viognier and want to keep your costs low, you may want to look for a New World bottle, as they tend to be less expensive than their French counterparts, per Vivino. This is a great option when you want to try something new but don't want to explore flavors too far outside your comfort zone.

8. Albariño

According to Wine Folly, Albariño hails from Portugal and Spain and has a lovely touch of salinity to make for an interesting, savory wine. It's also known for notes of lemon zest and other citrus flavors, making it a clear choice for days spent by the coast — or wishing you were spending your day by the coast. It's dry but not too dry and super-acidic, and we love it with seafood and salads. Think of it as an essential summertime drink when focusing on flavor.

Generally, Albariño is aged in steel tanks, not oak, to retain its lightness and freshness. But currently, some winemakers in Spain and Portugal are experimenting with oak and creating richer versions of this otherwise refreshing wine. Most of the time, though, if you're looking for a wine that will make your mouth water even more than your food does, an Albariño is the way to go.

9. Sémillon

You may not have heard of Sémillon before, but according to Wine Folly, it's France's third most important wine. It's full-bodied like a Chardonnay, but its flavor is more reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc. Interested yet? It's commonly grown in France and Australia, and it's quite an affordable wine in the U.S., which should make it a top pick for any budget wine drinker out there.

How a Sémillon tastes is primarily decided by where it's grown. If you prefer Chardonnay to other white wines, you'll want to look for grapes from warm climates like Argentina, California, South Africa, and Southern Australia. Wine Folly says that these higher-alcohol content wines are often aged in oak barrels, lending them a buttery quality that you won't find in cooler-climate Sémillon. Those grown in places like Washington and Western Australia taste closer to a Sauvignon Blanc with an acidic edge. They'll also be more floral than their warm-weather counterparts. There's a Sémillon for everyone, so get sipping to find your favorites.

10. Gewürztraminer

Want to experience a white wine that you may not have encountered before? You won't often find a Gewürztraminer in a grocery store wine aisle, but it's worth searching out if you love sweet aromatic wine. Wine Enthusiast writes that this wine is often a deep golden color even though it comes from a white grape — it's probably the first thing you'll notice when you pour out your first glass of the stuff. Wine Folly says that you might taste grapefruit, lychee, or pineapple notes depending on the ripeness of the fruit in the wine.

Though it has a similar level of sweetness to a Moscato, it's higher in alcohol content and doesn't have quite as much acidity. This makes it a no-go for some wine drinkers who prefer something more refreshing. If you do want to give Gewürztraminer a go, look for it in wine shops or online to find the best quality.