How to choose white wine

Wondering how to choose the right white wine? Picking a style of white wine that matches the occasion and pleases everyone is no mean feat. With so many different varieties and terminology to get your head around, a lot can go into the decision-making process! This week, at Ideal Wine Company, we have some top tips to help make it a bit easier for you.  Let’s get started…

Ideal Wine Company choosing white wine
Wondering how to choose the right white wine? Here’s our top tips!

Know your varieties 

With white wine, there are ‘The Big Eight’ varieties to bear in mind. These are the classic white wine options that you’ll usually find, made up of:



  1. Chardonnay
  2. Sauvignon Blanc (also called FuméBlanc)
  3. Riesling
  4. Gewurztraminer
  5. Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio
  6. Semillon
  7. Viognier
  8. Chenin Blanc

After you’re aware of these, make sure to know their alternative names. Sometimes you will hear a white wine referred to by its regional or Old-World name.  For example, a white Burgundy or Chablis is simply Burgundy’s white wine made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes or Bordeaux’s Sauternes is a sweet, full-bodied white wine made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle.

Important terminology you need to know 

When you’re shopping for a bottle of white wine, you may notice the same phrases coming up again and again. It’s useful to know what these mean as these are your best guides for finding a wine suited to your taste. With so many varieties of white grapes, it’s important that you know its character. Let’s have a look at the terms used to describe this…

  • Crisp: If a wine is crisp, it means that it is fresh and slightly acidic.
  • Creamy: A wine is referred to as creamy if it has a smooth texture, andis not acidic.
  • Dry: A dry wine is one that is devoid of sweetness.
  • Oaky: Wine that is aged in oak barrels and has a distinct flavour similar to vanilla.
  • Round: This is a term used to describe wine that has a smooth texture.

These are a great starting point for knowing what your wine will taste like. By checking the label for this terminology, it can save you valuable time if you’re looking for a specific variety.

Keep the situation in mind

Your wine should usually enhance whatever situation you’re drinking it in. If you’re enjoying white wine outside on a spring day, it should be light and citrusy. Likewise, if you’re buying wine to serve alongside food, you should always keep the dishes in mind.

When it comes to serving white wine with food, there are a few basic rules that can be helpful. Dry white wines work well with light meals, usually lighter in spice, which consist white meats, salads, cheese, fish or pork. If you’re serving a dish like this, try opting for Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, as both are light and mineral wines that won’t dominate the flavour profiles.

If you’re looking for a white wine to go with flavoured and spicy fare, then you can safely opt for Gewürztraminer. It is a full-bodied wine with an aroma of its own that makes it the perfect wine to go with Asian dishes, pork, and beef.

As a rule, sweet wines like Rieslings and ice wine best compliment desserts, fruits or anything that’s sweet. This makes it perfect for the end of a meal.

While many will look to tailor their white wine to specific dishes, these wines work well for a broad range of options. Make sure that when you’re choosing your wine, you’re keeping these suggestions in mind and balancing the flavours of your food with your wine.

Taste your wine

This is a vital – and fun – step! The more you taste different varieties of wine, the more you’ll learn and develop your palate. This will help you get familiar with what you like – and what you don’t – in a white wine. You can never be sure of the character of a wine until you sample it, so trying before you buy can make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want. The best white wine, after all, is the one that appeals to you and your taste buds!

With these tips, you’ll be able to find your perfect white wine for any occasion. Don’t be afraid to try something new or mix it up – you may be pleasantly surprised!