White wine is a delightful and refreshing beverage that comes in a variety of styles and flavors. From crisp and zesty to rich and creamy, there are types of white wine to suit every taste. Let’s explore the different types of white wine, their characteristics, and popular examples.

Discover new favorites and enhance your appreciation for this diverse category of wines.

White Wine Verses Red Wine

White wine can be made from both white and red grape varieties. The color of the wine does not come from the grape skin per se, the key difference from red wine is that the skins are separated from the juice before fermentation. This technique ensures that the resulting wine is light in color and low in tannins. Winemakers carefully control the fermentation process to preserve the fruit flavors and acidity, resulting in a refreshing and vibrant wine.

White Wine Calories

The calorie content in white wine can vary depending on its sweetness and alcohol content. On average, a 5-ounce serving of white wine contains about 120 to 130 calories. Dry white wines tend to have fewer calories, closer to 120 per serving, because they have less residual sugar.

Sweeter white wines have more calories due to the higher sugar content. It’s always a good idea to check the label or consult with the producer for the most accurate calorie information for a specific wine.

What White Wine Is Dry?

Dry white wines contain minimal residual sugar, resulting in a less sweet and more crisp or tart flavor profile. Many types of white wine can be made in a dry style, Chardonnay is the most popular.

What White Wine is Sweet?

Similar to wine made in a dry style, many types of white wine are also made in the sweet style. The most popular sweet white wine is Riesling.

White Wine Sweetness Chart

Types of White Wine By Sweetness

Very Dry Muscadet

Muscadet wines are renowned for their dry profile, meaning they contain very little residual sugar. Typically, Muscadet wine has less than 2 grams per liter, which is almost imperceptible to most palates.

The wine is from the Loire Valley region in western France, particularly around the city of Nantes. It’s made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The wine often showcases subtle citrus flavors alongside distinctive mineral notes, thanks to the region’s diverse soils.

A unique aspect of Muscadet production is the practice of aging the wine “sur lie,” meaning it rests on the dead yeast cells (lees) for a period after fermentation. This technique can enhance the wine’s complexity, adding texture and subtle yeasty or bready nuances.

Versatile and Food-Friendly: Chardonnay

Chardonnay, which is generally a dry white wine, contains relatively low amounts of sugar. The sugar content can vary depending on the winemaking style, but typically, a 5-ounce serving of Chardonnay has approximately 1 to 2 grams of sugar. Some might leave a bit more residual sugar in the wine, especially in those labeled as “off-dry”.

Chardonnay is one of the most widely recognized and versatile white wines. It can be oaked or unoaked, resulting in different flavor profiles. Oak-aged Chardonnay often exhibits rich and buttery flavors, while unoaked Chardonnay tends to be crisper with notes of green apple and citrus. Chardonnay is a great companion for various dishes, including seafood, poultry, and creamy pastas.

Crisp and Light: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is another dry white wine. On average, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc might contain about 1 to 3 grams of sugar per 5-ounce (approximately 150 ml) serving. However, this amount can vary depending on the specific wine and the winemaking process.

Sauvignon Blanc is a popular white wine known for its vibrant acidity and herbaceous flavors. It often exhibits notes of citrus fruits, green apples, and grassy undertones. Originating from the Loire Valley in France, Sauvignon Blanc has now gained international popularity, with notable examples from New Zealand and California.


A 5-ounce serving of Vermentino will also typically contain less than 1 to 2 grams of sugar.

Vermentino is a Mediterranean white wine grape variety, popular in regions like Sardinia, Corsica, and parts of Italy, known for its crisp acidity and citrusy flavors.

Rich and Buttery: Viognier

Viognier, which is known for its aromatic qualities and can range from dry to slightly sweet, generally contains a modest amount of residual sugar when it is made in a dry style. For a 5-ounce serving of dry Viognier, you can expect around 1 to 2 grams of sugar. If the Viognier is intentionally made in a sweeter style, the sugar content will be higher, but this is less common for this varietal.

Viognier is a full-bodied white wine known for its luscious texture and rich flavors. It often presents notes of apricot, peach, and honeysuckle, with a subtle hint of spice. Viognier pairs well with creamy dishes, roasted poultry, and aromatic spices, making it a delightful choice for those seeking a more indulgent white wine experience.

Aged and Complex: White Bordeaux

Typically, you can expect a 5-ounce serving of dry White Bordeaux to contain around 2 grams of sugar. However, some White Bordeaux wines, especially those labeled as “Sauternes” are sweet and will have significantly higher sugar content. These dessert wines can have sugar content ranging from 45 grams per serving or higher, depending on the style and production methods.

White Bordeaux wines are crafted from a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. They can range from crisp and zesty to rich and complex, depending on the blend. These wines often exhibit flavors of citrus fruits, white flowers, and honey. White Bordeaux can benefit from aging, developing intriguing nuances and a silky texture over time.

Lively and Zesty: Pinot Grigio

A 5-ounce serving of Pinot Grigio might have between 1 to 4 grams of sugar.

Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, is a light and refreshing white wine originating from Italy. It is characterized by its zesty acidity and flavors of green apple, pear, and lemon zest. Pinot Grigio is an excellent choice for warm summer days and pairs well with light seafood dishes, salads, and fresh cheeses.

Aromatic and Floral: Riesling

The sugar content in Riesling wines can vary widely. For a standard 5-ounce serving, the sugar content can range from less than 1 gram in dry Rieslings to over 10 grams in sweeter varieties.

Riesling is a highly aromatic white wine known for its floral and fruity characteristics. It can range from bone-dry to sweet, offering a versatile range of options for wine enthusiasts. With its high acidity and flavors of stone fruits, tropical fruits, and honey, Riesling pairs exceptionally well with spicy cuisine and can age gracefully over time.

Exotic and Unique: Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is similar to Riesling in that the sugar content can very widely. For an early harvest standard 5-ounce serving, the sugar content can range from less than 1 gram. For late harvest versions, there can be over 10 grams per glass.

Gewürztraminer is an exotic white wine with intense aromatics and a distinct spiciness. It showcases flavors of lychee, rose petals, and tropical fruits, often accompanied by a hint of ginger or cloves. Gewürztraminer is a fantastic choice for those seeking a bold and unique wine that pairs well with spicy Asian cuisine and strong cheeses.

Off-Dry and Refreshing: Moscato

Moscato is a semi-sweet white wine cherished for its refreshing and fruity character. As a general guideline, a 5-ounce serving of still Moscato typically contains between 5 to 10 grams of sugar. This range can be higher for sweeter styles of Moscato, potentially reaching up to 15 grams or more per glass.

It boasts vibrant flavors of peach, orange blossom, and ripe melon. Moscato’s natural sweetness and lower alcohol content make it a popular choice for casual sipping and pairing with desserts, such as fruit tarts and light cakes.

Semi Sweet: Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a versatile grape that can produce a wide range of wine styles, from dry to sweet. For the dry style, the sugar content is typically low, often less than 4 grams of sugar per liter. However, for off-dry or sweet styles, such as those from regions like Vouvray in France, the sugar content can be significantly higher, ranging from about 10 grams per liter to over 45 grams per liter for some sweet styles.

It’s particularly well-regarded in the Loire Valley of France and South Africa.

Sweet and Fruity: White Zinfandel

White Zinfandel typically contains a lot of residual sugar, making it sweeter than many other types of wine. On average, a 5-ounce serving of White Zinfandel can contain between 5 to 10 grams of sugar.

The creation of White Zinfandel was somewhat accidental. In the early 1970s, Sutter Home Winery in California experienced a stuck fermentation while making a Zinfandel wine. This process left the wine with a higher sugar content and a lighter color than typical Zinfandel wines. The result was a sweeter, pink wine that Sutter Home decided to market as White Zinfandel. To the winery’s surprise, it became immensely popular, especially in the 1980s, leading other wineries to produce their own versions of White Zinfandel.

White Zinfandel is known for its sweet taste and light, refreshing qualities. Made from the Zinfandel grape variety which is primarily grown in California. The wine’s characteristic pink hue comes from a short fermentation period with the grape skins, which imparts color and some flavor without reaching the intensity of a red wine.

It has a low alcohol content and its sweet, fruity flavor profile, often featuring notes of strawberries, cherries, and citrus. Its sweetness and refreshing quality make it an approachable wine for those who might not typically enjoy drier wines. It’s also versatile in food pairing, going well with a variety of dishes including spicy cuisines, salads, and light pasta dishes.

Ice Wine: Eiswein

The sugar content in ice wine is significantly higher than in many other types of wines. On average, a 3.5-ounce serving of ice wine can contain between 12 to 70 grams of sugar per serving.

Ice wine is known as “Eiswein. It is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.

The freezing concentrates the sugars and flavors in the grapes because water inside the grapes freezes, but the sugars and other dissolved solids do not. The frozen grapes are pressed while still frozen, which results in a small amount of highly concentrated juice. Ice wine is produced in several countries including Canada, Germany, and Austria.

The unique method of production results in a concentrated and very sweet wine. Commonly made with white grape varieties such as Riesling and VidalI, it typically features intense flavors of tropical fruits, honey, citrus, and apricot, along with a smooth and luxurious mouthfeel.

Storing and Serving White Wine

To fully enjoy white wine, it is essential to store and serve it correctly. White wines are best served chilled, typically between 45°F (7°C) and 55°F (13°C). Avoid serving them too cold, as it can mute the flavors. When storing white wine, aim for a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature, ideally between 50°F (10°C) and 55°F (13°C). Store the bottles horizontally to keep the cork moist and prevent oxidation.


Which White Wine is the Best for Beginners?

A good starting point for beginners would be a crisp and light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Can White Wine Be Aged Like Red Wine?

While most white wines are best consumed within a few years of release, certain white wines, such as White Bordeaux or aged Riesling, can develop interesting flavors and textures with aging.

How Long Can I Keep An Open Bottle of White Wine

Once opened, white wine should be consumed within a few days to a week. You can use a wine stopper or store it in the refrigerator to prolong its freshness.