10 Popular White Wine Grape Varieties From All Over the World

There are at least 20 different varieties of white wine grapes grown across the world. The flavor profiles of the wines produced vary according to the climate the grapes grow in and the aging and fermentation processes used in manufacturing.

We have rounded up a selection of the most popular varieties of white wine grapes from all over the world. We have provided you with a little information on each to give you a starting point from which to build your wine knowledge.

These little pieces of information are perfect for making you look like an expert at your next wine tasting experience. 

10 Popular White Wine Grape Varieties From All Over the World

Albarino 

This is a thick-skinned grape that is green in color. They are found growing on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, but the grapes originate from the eastern areas of Portugal.

The grapes have a very high acidity due to the Maritime climate in this region. The grapes are also found growing in Oregon, Washington, the cooler regions of California, Australia, and New Zealand. 

The flavor of Albarino wines tends to have notes of peaches, nectarines, grapefruits, and lemons. The wines are typically fresh-tasting, light-bodied, and dry with fruity flavors.

Some bottles are aged in lees or oak. This makes them more full-bodied, creamy, and texturally interesting.

Albarino wines are best served with white fish, white meat, leafy herbs, soft and semi-hard cheeses, and tapas. 

Chardonnay

This is one of the most famous white wine grapes in the world. The fruits have green skins and can be found growing worldwide due to the wine’s unbelievable popularity.

The grapes were first grown in the Burgundy area of France, but other notable growing regions include Australia, New Zealand, and California. 

The flavors of Chardonnay wines will vary according to terroir – the location and climate that the grapes are grown in. The wines are typically dry and with a medium body.

The flavor notes are those of apples, pears, lemon peel, guava, and melon. They are often called creamy or buttery too. When grown in warmer climates, Chardonnay grapes have notes of mango and pineapple.

In colder climates, the predominant flavors are peaches and apricots. When aged in oak barrels tannins are incorporated into the wine. This gives notes of toast, toffee, vanilla, and spice. 

Chardonnay is perfect with white fish, pasta, and chicken dishes.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc grapes were first grown in the Loire Valley in France but now can be found in a number of New World wine regions such as South Africa where it is called Steen. They are also grown in the United States, Argentina, New Zealand, and France.

These grapes are so popular they are grown in more than 50% of the world’s vineyards. 

The flavor profiles of Chenin Blanc wines are hugely wide-ranging. They can be floral and honeyed, light and zesty, or sparkling and dry.

The Loire Valley grapes are closer to the floral end of the spectrum, with notes of apple and quince. The cooler fermentation process of South African wines results in a peachier and more pear-flavored wine. 

Chenin Blanc pairs well with Asian foods, goat’s cheese, and smoked salmon. 

Gewurztraminer 

These are pink-skinned grapes that produce a rich golden color when made into wine. This grape variety is one of the 4 noble varieties of Alsace that thrive in cool climates. These grapes were originally grown at the base of the Alps mountains, near the border of France and Germany.

The grapes have since spread out and can now be found in Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia. 

The flavors of Gewurztraminer wines tend to be most distinctively lychee. They are incredibly aromatic wines with honey, marmalade, rose, orange, lavender, and pineapple notes.

These wines have a low acidity, meaning that they tend to be relatively sweet. You can get off-dry or semi-dry wines. 

Muscat Blanc A Petitis Grains 

This is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world and is part of the Muscat family. These grapes are small and covered with yellow skin. The hues of these grapes can range from pink to red, to pale brown.

They are grown most prominently in Versace and Roussillon in France but are also found in the Piemonte region of Italy, Greece, California, and Australia.

The flavors of these grapes are very potent. When made into wine, you can produce a huge variety of styles. This ranges from dry to sweet, sparkling, and dessert wines.

Drier whites have notes of flowers, citrus, and spice. The sparkling counterparts tend to taste more of melon, grape, and honeysuckle. 

Pinot Grigio

These grapes are also called Pinot Gris and are a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. The skins of these grapes are rose-tinted and can be anywhere from a grayish pink to a blue.

Traditionally these grapes were grown in the Burgundy region of France but like many others, it is now grown globally. Other popular regions for Pinot Grigio include Oregon, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, and Alsace. 

Pinot Grigio has low acidity but the flavor will vary according to where the grapes are grown. You should expect to find notes of apples, sweet spices, tropical fruits, lemon, pear, and white nectarine.

Grapes from France will have mild honey, ginger, and cinnamon flavors; whereas Italian grapes taste more like citrus and bitter almond. 

Riesling

This is one of the most common grape varieties in the world. They originally come from the Rhine region of Germany, especially Mosel and Rheingau. German vineyards produce 20% of the entire world’s supply of Riesling wine.

Riesling grapes can also be found in Washington, California, New Zealand, Alsace, Australia, and the Finger Lakes in New York.

Riesling has a comparable acidity level to lemonade and orange juice. Younger Riesling wines have aromas of honeycomb, grapefruit, gooseberry, apples, and peach.

Older Rieslings are often reported to have gasoline, kerosene, and burnt rubber aromas. Riesling grapes from warmer regions taste of lime. 

Sauvignon Blanc

These grapes are from west France, specifically the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions. It spread to New Zealand where the cool climate massively enhanced the grape flavor. Nowadays the grapes are also grown in Chile, South Africa, California, and Australia. 

Sauvignon Blanc has zingy, bright, and fresh notes. Typical aromas in the wine are gooseberries, freshly cut grass, passion fruit and other tropical fruits, blackcurrant leaf, elderflower, green apples, and nettles.

Warmer climates result in a wine with stronger tropical flavors, whereas cooler climates have a zingier flavor. 

Sémillon

These grapes are commonly used as a blending grape, combined with other varieties to make wines such as Sauternes, Barsac, and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. These grapes are native to the Bordeaux region of France where the bulk of the grape production remains.

Other areas that grow this grape include China, California, Australia, Washington, and South Africa. 

When these grapes are vinified dry the flavors are reminiscent of lemon, white flowers, apple, stone fruits, and beeswax. If it is vinified more sweetly, it has honey and lanolin tones.

These grapes have a high concentration of sugar and glycerol, which gives the wine a silky texture. 

Viognier 

Viognier grapes originate from the Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet vineyards of the Northern Rhone in France. In the 1970s this grape variety nearly went extinct and so they began to be grown in the Mount Harlan area of California and the Eden Valley in Australia.

It is now also found in Spain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and South Africa. 

Common flavor notes in Viognier wines include white flowers, violets, apricots, honeysuckle, jasmine, aromatics, vanilla, clove, and nutmeg. When these wines are new oak-aged the nutmeg, clove, and vanilla flavors are more pronounced.

When they are not aged in oak the floral and tropical flavors come through more strongly. 

Emma Miller
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