Wine Essentials

12 Types of Dry White Wine for Every Occasion

There are many types of dry white wines to choose from, each with its unique blend of fruit and citrus flavors. Explore all the different styles here.

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Types of Dry White Wine

Dry white wines are not given as much credit as they deserve. Though most folks will recognize Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as types of good dry white wine, there are plenty more styles to consider, from a Portuguese blend like Vinho Verde to an Italian aperitif like Verdicchio and white Burgundy, a dry white wine produced from Chardonnay grapes, which often appears on lists denoting the most expensive wines in the world.

While most types of dry white wines might look the same — they’re usually pale yellow — the palate proves otherwise as aromatic wines like Viognier showcase flavors of stone fruit (peach and apricot) while Albariño is almost savory, with a mouth-watering salinity. Looking for a red wine? Check out our guide to the main types of red wine.

The Main Types of Dry White Wine

Dry white wines are both blends and single-varietal wines that feature less than four grams of sugar per liter. The sugar being referred to is residual sugar that remains after fermentation. The level will vary depending on the harvested grape’s natural sugars. The majority of the white wines on this list are produced from grapes that are inherently low in sugar unless left on the vine to ripen and increase sugars for a sweeter style wine. Keep reading for a selection of incredible types of dry white wines to try.

Chardonnay 

Chardonnay - Types of Dry White Wine

As one of the most planted white wine grapes in the world (totaling nearly 500,000 global acres), this French variety is important to many regions for the single-varietal wines it produces. In France, the Chardonnay grape is used in Burgundian wines, which take the name of their respective appellations. Bourgogne (Burgundy), Chablis, and Pouilly-Fuissé are among a few of the most popular and also the most ageable. With time, some white Burgundies might even beckon decanting. (Here are some suggestions on how to decant wine.) In their youth, the wines share notes of yellow apple and lemon. But with age, tropical fruit can take over with a certain nuttiness or damp earth.

Outside of France, the grape produces titular Chardonnay in regions from Oregon to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California, Australia to New Zealand, and from Chile to South Africa. Over the years, the New World wines became notorious for their overpowering oak taste on the palate. Yet, that style is changing as premium producers work to showcase the potential of Chardonnay beyond its homeland.

Sauvignon Blanc 

Sauvignon Blanc

This white grape may have originated in France. But today, it’s one of the most prolifically planted white varieties around the globe. In most wine regions — such as New Zealand, Chile, Australia, South Africa, and the Napa Valley — the grape produces a single-varietal wine of the same name: Sauvignon Blanc, a dry, high-acid wine with a light body and unique herbal aromas like gooseberry, green pepper, and freshly cut grass. In the Loire Valley in France, Sauvignon Blanc is used to produce single-varietal wines of the same name as the appellation where it’s grown: Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. And in fact, it’s the only white grape permitted to grow in both appellations. It’s also used in a blend for Bordeaux Blanc along with regional varieties — more on that below.  

Riesling 

Riesling | Types of Dry White Wine

One of the most polarizing styles of wine, perhaps because it’s misunderstood. Riesling ranges in style from dry to off-dry to very sweet wines, and the labeling system is a bit confusing. However, Riesling can, in fact, be produced in a bone-dry style. Though wine regions have been pushing to more clearly label Rieslings to differentiate between the different styles, it isn’t a definitive requirement. In this case, when you’re out and unfamiliar with the producer on the wine menu, ask the waiter for the wine’s ABV. Dry Rieslings are usually over 12% alcohol; anything lower will have more sugar, classifying it as off-dry or sweeter. Alsace and Germany are important regions for dry Riesling, as is the Finger Lakes region in New York.

Grüner Veltliner 

Grüner Veltliner

Native to Austria, Grüner Veltliner is the country’s national grape. The dry white wine of the same name is generally full of citrus and clean minerality that’s accented by a slightly black pepper finish (usually noted as spicy). The wines are full-bodied with a mouthwatering acidity that makes them an unparalleled pairing for sashimi, oysters, and fresh salads. The highest quality of Grüner Veltliner is labeled as Prädikatswein. These wines offer an impressive ageability for this variety.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris 

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

In its native France, this white grape variety is known as Pinot Gris, while elsewhere, it is called Pinot Grigio. In general, you can expect a Pinot Gris to have more complexity than a Pinot Grigio due to the winemaking techniques. Outside of France, the white grape has been most successful in Italy, where it produces a dry, light-bodied, unoaked white wine that’s a crowd-pleaser. For this reason, many Pinot Grigio wines are produced in large quantities, are relatively simple in terms of flavors, and are priced lower than many other white wines. This accessibility also makes it one of the most prominent white wines for cooking.

In France, the majority of Pinot Gris from the most popular growing area of Alsace are dry. Yet the region does produce Pinot Gris with medium sweetness. Tip: If you’re seeking a dry style, don’t buy a Pinot Gris with Venganges Tardives on the label — this translates to “late harvest,” and these wines are typically sweeter as the grapes are picked when they’re very ripe. So the sugar levels are high and acidity has decreased. Pinot Gris is also grown in Oregon. 

Verdicchio

Verdicchio | Types of Dry White Wine

Popular in Central Italy, particularly the Marche region, the white grape of Verdicchio produces eponymous, easy-to-drink, dry white wines with high acidity. The wines are typically of light to medium body with notes of stone fruits like ripe peach or a zesty lemon meringue. These characteristics make Verdicchio a popular aperitif pour (Italy’s version of happy hour) alongside olives and nutty cheeses.

Vinho Verde 

Vinho Verde

Produced in Portugal’s Vinho Verde region, this dry white wine is a blend that’s gaining popularity for its light body, slight effervescence, and searing acidity. The approved grapes for Vinho Verde are Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Batoca, Loureiro, and Trajadura — but you don’t need to remember that! Just know that these grapes come together to create the style of wine known as Vinho Verde, which translates to “green wine.” On the palate, its name reveals itself in the notes of green apple, unripe pear, and herbal zest that make for an ultra-crisp sipper. It’s a perfect warm-weather wine.

Albariño 

Albariño | Types of Dry White Wine

As one of the primary white grapes in Vinho Verde, Albariño (also called Alvarinho) also stands on its own as a dry, zesty white wine with a touch of saline imbued by its coastal growing regions along the Iberian Peninsula (primarily Galicia, Spain and the Vinho Verde region of Portugal). The wine is refreshing and meant to be drunk young. It has a medium body, high acidity, and flavors of stone fruit like apricot and citrus like grapefruit. 

Bordeaux Blanc

Bordeaux Blanc

Bordeaux Blanc is a dry white blend consisting of regional grapes from Bordeaux. The most common blend is Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. However, a more complex blend could also include Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. There are a few other permitted grapes that can be used in Bordeaux Blanc. But they are typically used sparingly: Merlot Blanc, Colombard, and Ugni Blanc. Generally, Bordeaux Blanc is a light, dry white wine with notes of gooseberry, wet stone, and grapefruit, but there is also a more medium-bodied, off-dry blend that would offer more honey notes and tropical fruit. Fans of dry white wine will want to ensure they’re purchasing the former.

Muscadet 

Muscadet

Muscadet is a lean wine with a light body and minerality that trends toward savory or salty. This salinity increases the closer the vineyards are to the sea. Green pear, lime, and lemon are common tasting notes, which keep the wine fresh and food-friendly. Muscadet should not be confused with Muscat sweet wines. Muscadet is produced from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, which gives it its name; “Muscadet” means “melon” in French. This style of white wine is most popular in France’s Loire Valley, notably the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, with some growing pockets in the wine regions throughout Oregon.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc

Produced from a white grape of the same name, Chenin Blanc is usually dry. However, there are some notable off-dry and Moelleux styles (sweet wines from Bordeaux). Focusing on the dry style, Chenin Blanc offers a palate ripe with tropical fruit like pineapple and mango balanced by a zesty high acidity. It’s most popularly grown in France’s Vouvray appellation in the Loire Valley, but has also taken off in South Africa. There, it’s actually the most widely planted white grape variety. 

Viognier 

Viognier

This aromatic white grape gives way to a dry, medium-bodied varietal wine that frequently presents a soft mouthfeel as it doesn’t have prominent acid (usually low to medium). Viognier wine is also discernible for its white blossom aromatics and stone fruit flavors on the palate. Many people confuse the floral notes with sweetness. Despite the sweet-smelling bouquet, Viognier is a dry wine. The grape is most popular in France’s northern Rhône (Condrieu) but has also gained recognition for its versatility in white blends, offering floral notes and texture.

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