If you love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Italian Pinot Grigio, then you should know about these lesser-known white wine varieties. Each wine represents a unique place in the world.
Fearlessly dive into the world of white wines
If you need an excuse to get into white wines, here are several:
- They’re cheaper than red wines (but not lower quality).
- They make a great beer substitute with little to no carbs.
- White wines have subtle flavors and teach you how to smell critically.
- Pairing food with white wine is simple.
- The only trouble with white wines is that they’re too easy to drink.
You can love Pinot Grigio and still expand your horizons. Once you branch out past the usual suspects that grow on every corner of the planet (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc), you’ll find several regions that specialize in one grape or blend. Regional wines have what sommeliers call “typicity” in that they are so unique it’s possible to identify the wine in a blind tasting.
So, when tasting new regional wines, take a minute to jot down a few tasting notes because it helps in building your wine repertoire.
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While Vinho Verde uses a blend of indigenous grapes, the varieties of Alvarinho (aka Albariño) and Loureiro stand out. These particular Vinho Verde grapes impress critics and winemakers with their potential for quality.
Typically, Vinho Verde gets bottled with spritz (carbonation) and a little residual sugar (to make the wines more fruit-forward). However, if you look into the region’s best winemakers you’ll find these wines are much more reminiscent to fine Mosel Riesling.
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Most experts look to the Wachau region in Austria for the “best” Grüner Veltliner. However, if you dig into the neighboring region of Kamptal, there is exceptional quality too (and it tends to be cheaper).
Picpoul de Pinet
The grape Picpoul is nearly exclusive to the Languedoc region in Picpoul de Pinet where vineyards overlook the Mediterranean. Wines lean on the dry side with flavors of preserved lemon, honeydew melon, crushed rocks, and a whiff of sea air.
One amazing white wine hotspot comes from a very unlikely place: a brandy production zone. Côtes de Gascogne happens to be in the exact same location as the Armagnac brandy region in South-West, France. The producers use the same grapes destined for brandy to make some delicious, squash-able white wines.
The grape, Colombard, is often herbaceous with high acids. Fortunately, producers here have found that it blends well with the more neutral and more full-bodied Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano). This region offers some of the best values in South-West, France.
If you’re looking for more white wines, be sure to check out the grapes section of this site!