Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc dominate American white wine purchases. In 2018, these three grape varieties accounted for 102 million 9-liter cases of the total 147.6 million cases of white wine sold, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data. That’s an astonishing 69 percent.
From aromatic Collio Bianco, to steely Sancerre, and luxurious white Burgundy, these three varieties produce undoubtedly delicious wines. But if the numbers are anything to go by, we could all do with branching out a little and sampling something new — even if it’s just every once in a while.
Ready to take the leap? Here are five wonderful white wines you should try.
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Most notably grown in Campania, in southern Italy, Falanghina is believed to be among the earliest vitis vinifera varieties planted in the country by the ancient Greeks. During Roman times, winemakers blended it with red variety Aglianico to produce the empire’s fine Falernian wines.
Falanghina vines thrive in the volcanic soils of Campania, where the Mediterranean climate is moderated by cooling maritime breezes. The wines are typically lean and crisp, with zesty citrus aromas and refreshing green-fruit flavors. At their best, the wines are textured by rich minerality, which makes them a perfect match for local seafood dishes, such as spaghetti alle vongole.
Try if you like: Assyrtiko
Recommended bottle: Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio, Campania, Italy. Average price: $15.
During the 1970s, just a few hundred Godello vines remained in the variety’s homeland in Galicia, in northwest Spain. But thanks to the efforts of Horacio Fernández, who launched a revival project to replenish stocks in 1974, Godello avoided near-certain extinction and now flourishes.
Grown on low yielding vines, in the slate-rich slopes of the Valdeorras, Godello produces mineral-rich whites with immensely concentrated citrus fruit, peaches, and grapefruit peel flavors. With racy acidity balanced by a rich mouthfeel, these wines pair well with grilled poultry dishes and seafood.
Try if you like: Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc
Recommended bottle: Bodegas Avancia Cuvee de O Godello, Valdeorras, Spain. Average price: $17.
While Malbec is the undisputed star of Argentine winemaking, Torrontés plays an important supporting role. The best expressions are made from grapes grown in the high-altitude vineyards of Salta, Jujuy, and Catamarca, in the north of the country. Here, significant swings between daytime and nighttime temperatures help retain acidity and keep alcohol levels in check.
Torrontés produces perfumed whites with tropical-fruit and floral aromas. Because of its highly aromatic nature, Torrontés makes a fantastic pairing for fragrant Thai salads and mild Indian curries. But choose your bottle wisely: Thanks to a slightly bitter, white pepper finish, Torrontés can occasionally clash with spicier dishes.
Albariño has enjoyed growing success in export markets in recent years, but in native Spain, Verdejo is the go-to variety for still white wines. It’s grown almost exclusively in the country’s central Rueda region, and also used to make a sparkling wine called Rueda Espumoso (though very little of the latter leaves the country).
Still Verdejo has pleasant acidity and herbaceous, green-fruit flavors. Occasionally blended with Sauvignon Blanc and/or Viura, Verdejo wines are capable of aging when the vines are grown in poor-quality, gravelly soils and vineyard yields are kept relatively low. A signature lime note guides food pairings, so anything you’d traditionally season with the zesty citrus fruit is a wonderful match for this refreshing white.
Try if you like: Pinot Grigio
Recommended bottle: Bodegas Angel Rodríguez Martínsancho Verdejo, Rueda, Spain. Average price: $17.
Like many other white varieties, Vermentino shines brightest when grown and vinified in coastal regions, most notably in Italy. The key white grape on the island of Sardinia, Vermentino is produced under two regional designations: Vermentino di Sardegna DOC and Vermentino di Gallura DOCG. The variety also appears in Liguria, on the Italian mainland, where it’s called Pigato; and in Bolgheri on the western Tuscan coast. In neighboring France, the grape is grown in Corsica and Languedoc-Roussillon, where it’s traditionally known as Rolle.
Maritime influences lend a salty minerality to Vermentino wines, balancing their otherwise tangy, fruity character. Juicy and refreshing, the wines are medium-bodied with an opulent texture, making them the perfect match for rich shellfish dishes.
Try if you like: Sauvignon Blanc
Recommended bottle: Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna, Sardinia, Italy. Average price: $13.