As the temperatures start to rise and the days get a little longer, you might be ready to trade your go-to glass of red wine for something more light-bodied and crisp. White wine shines at any time of the year, but it's especially delectable in the warmer seasons.
While there are moments when you simply want to savor your sip solo, you can also enjoy white wine with your meal! We know that understanding wind and food pairings can get a little complicated, so we're here to make it simple for you.
In this guide, we're breaking down the different types of dishes that go best with your favorite white wines, so you can hit the grocery store in confidence.
A Note on Food Pairing: Comparing vs Contrasting
Before we dive into how to arrange food pairings with white wine, let's talk strategy. In general, there are two schools of thought to consider when planning your meal.
The first approach is to combine items that are equally balanced in terms of texture and intensity. For instance, nothing tastes better with a decadent, buttery meal like lobster than a rich, full-bodied white wine like Chardonnay.
The second approach is to look for flavors and textures that contrast with one another. This might mean pairing a glass of acidic white wine, like Reisling, with a sweeter, softer entree like duck, pork, or crab.
There isn't one technique that works better than the other. In the end, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference. You may have to create a few different white wine food pairings to decide which approach you like the best!
In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the most traditional dishes that are normally served with a glass of white wine. These are combinations that you can enjoy on your own, as a romantic dinner for two, or with a small group of friends. You can even adapt the servings to accommodate a bigger crowd for a celebratory event.
1. Dry, Sparkling White Wine and Shellfish
Summer is the season of shellfish, and nothing goes better with a big plate of it than a dry, sparkling white wine. From lobster and crab to shrimp and mussels, you'll need something light and refreshing to wash it all down. That's where a great bottle of champagne or prosecco shines.
You can find an array of different sparkling wines in our online shop! Try the Blue Nun 24K Gold Edition for a light and elegant touch with just a hint of fruity sweetness. As if the natural bubbles, made from a centuries-old fermentation process, aren't enough, there are also real 24K gold flakes for extra luxe.
If it's champagne you prefer, we also have you covered. The JFJ Extra Dry California Sparkling Champagne makes the ideal complement to a plate of scallops or squid, with bright notes of citrus fruit, apples, pears, and nuts that sweeten up the dish.
Most sparkling white wines are palatable and easy to drink, with just the right amount of acidity to balance out a high-fat entree, like a baked lobster dinner. If you prefer something a little sweeter to balance out the brininess that seafood can often have, you can also try a glass of Riesling.
2. Dry White Wine and Poultry
Chicken and white wine go together like peanut butter and jelly. These are flavors that naturally just meld well together, thanks in large part to the creamy softness of the meat and the slight bite of the wine.
For the most part, the same wines that you'd serve with shellfish also pair well with poultry. While chicken is an obvious pick, don't forget about other options, including turkey and Cornish game hens! A glass of Riesling, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc will keep your meal from feeling too heavy, especially if the other flavors are more robust.
The next time you're grilling chicken or roasting a turkey in the oven, reach for a dry white wine. Bogle California Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is a great choice, featuring a vibrant and crisp taste with a hint of citrus, along with notes of grass, lime, and pineapple. In addition to fish or poultry, this particular wine is also delicious when served with any type of light, spicy food such as Pad Thai.
3. Pinot Grigio and Appetizers, Salads
Pinot Grigio is a refreshing, dry white wine. The most popular varieties are grown in France, Italy, and the United States. A light and zesty beverage that can stand on its own, it also makes a tasty complement to a variety of lighter dishes.
In addition to fish and chicken, you can serve Pinot Grigio with mild, creamy cheeses, as well as other nibbles and snacks commonly found on a charcuterie board. It has a fairly neutral flavor profile that doesn't compete with anything else that you're eating, which makes it a picnic staple and the go-to drink for many informal gatherings.
Due to its evenly-keeled tones and textures, pinot grigio is often served as a pre-course appetizer. It's just intense enough to whet your appetite without filling your palate with overwhelming flavors that will overshadow the next dish.
Try it with a simple garden salad before a heavier meal of pizza or pasta. It also goes well with light, grainy-textured foods such as risotto or couscous. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio DOC 2020 is a great place to start, featuring a strong aroma, perfectly dry flavor, and a warm golden apple aftertaste.
4. Chenin Blanc and Light Meat Dishes
Chenin Blanc is a white wine grape variety that hails from France's Loire Valley. It's a very adaptable and flexible wine that can take on a host of different flavors, aromas, and textures depending on the method of production. You can find Chenin Blanc wines that are light and sparkling, ultra-dry, or even sweet.
No matter which style you prefer, this type of white wine will always be exceptionally crisp, bright, and juicy. If you're looking for a beverage to serve alongside a light meat dish like shrimp scampi, roast pork, or ham, you can't go wrong with a bottle.
If you're new to Chenin Blanc, start with the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier 2021. This aromatic wine features nose-tickling scents of honeysuckle, orange blossoms, and tropical fruits, as well as hints of citrus, apple, and lychee. These light, vibrant flavors might get lost amid heavier meat dishes, but they're just right with lightened-up options.
5. French White Bordeaux and Light Seafood
As a general rule, French White Bordeaux tends to be on the dry side. However, it still maintains a strong element of freshness, as well as a vibrant flavor profile. For this reason, many people choose to pour a glass when they're also serving a soft, mid-intensity meat dish, such as fish, chicken, pork, or veal.
To avoid going overboard on the zest, stick with more basic recipes that aren't too acidic. For example, if you're serving a glass of French White Bordeaux with a plate of mussels, you don't need to squeeze the lemon wedge quite as vigorously over the plate. The wine will take care of that acidity and zing for you.
One of our top French White Bordeaux wines is the Petite Sirene Bordeaux Sauvignon-Semillon 2016. With its pale yellow color and notes of floral and citrus, it strikes a perfect balance between acidity and fruitiness. You can even serve it as a pre-meal aperitif!
6. Moscato and Spicy Dishes
If you love sweet white wine, then you will likely have a bottle or two of Mosacto at home! This insanely drinkable white wine is sweeter than most, but don't limit yourself by placing it strictly in the "dessert" category.
Yes, Moscato goes well with a slice of cake or pie. However, remember our two strategies? In addition to complementing flavors and aromas, you can also choose ones that contrast.
In this case, that's the way to go. For a balanced profile that works, try a glass of sweet Moscato with a spicier type of food such as curry or hot chicken wings. You might be surprised to find that the flavors don't compete with one another and indeed work well together!
Another way to incorporate Moscato is to serve it alongside creamy, soft cheeses such as Brie. It also makes a lovely addition to salty meat, such as prosciutto. Order a bottle of Salt of the Earth Flore de Moscato California Sweet Wine 2021 to see for yourself how it livens up your next batch of jalapeno poppers!
7. Pinot Gris and Spicy Seafood
Pinot Gris is made from the same grape as Pinot Grigio, yet it doesn't tend to be as light and zippy. Instead, this type of wine is on the heavier side, with a slightly oily texture and a trademark honey flavor.
As with most of the white wines on our list, Pinot Gris is delicious with almost any kind of seafood, including halibut. It has high acidity, intense citrus flavors, and just the right amount of sweetness.
Like Moscato, this is also a great wine to serve with spicy dishes, especially ones that incorporate spice and seafood, such as this Spicy Seafood Stew! If you're used to preparing traditional Asian dishes at home, you'll find that Pinot Gris helps balance out the flavors and neutralize the intensity.
When browsing Pino Gris options, look for ingredients that are delicate yet flavorful. You'll find the right blend with Rabble Santa Maria Pinot Gris 2016, which combines complex layers of jasmine tea, cinnamon, cantaloupe, and mango with toasty notes of walnut and honey.
8. Semillon and Sushi
If you love dry white wine, you need to try Semillon. This wine is reminiscent of other dry favorites, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, but has its own unique characteristics. It's full-bodied and features honey and citrus flavors that complement lots of delicious dishes.
Similar to Pinot Gris, some styles of Semillon can be almost oily in texture, with a heavy feel and low acidity. However, most versions are lighter and zestier in nature, and go perfectly with seafood, especially sushi!
The more neutral base notes of Semillon can accommodate heavier and stronger-seasoned flavors, so don't shy away from applying your preferred amount of Asian spices, Indian spices, or woodsy spices (think cinnamon, clove, and star anise) to your dish.
When you're ready to give this one a try, start with Ashbrook Estate Margaret River Semillon 2020. This wine gets its complex, layered notes thanks to its uniquely staggered harvesting process, wherein fruits are taken from a variety of different estate sites. As a result, there's a wide array of aromas and flavors, ranging from ripe, punchy citrus to sweet, herbal grassiness.
9. Spanish White Wine and Tapas
The term Spanish White Wine serves as a sort of catch-all category, encompassing all varieties of white wine grown in Spain. Arguably the most popular variety is Albariño, a white grape that grows almost exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula.
Super aromatic and highly acidic, Albariño has light citrus notes of lime, grapefruit, and orange. You may also notice sweet notes of peaches, green apples, and cantaloupes. As many Albariño vineyards are located close to the ocean, this wine is naturally served with seafood, but avoid it with large, heavier dishes.
Instead, enjoy a glass of Albariño with a lighter, tapas-style seafood entree, such as sardines, shrimp cocktail, or octopus. Paco & Lola Albarino 2020 is a great option, with lively acidity, a crisp taste, and a pleasant aroma of fruits, herbs, and florals.
10. Viognier and Roast Chicken
Viognier is a full-bodied white wine that traces its roots back to southern France. While it's not as well-known as some of the others on this list, it's worth a second look thanks to its rich aromas of peach, honeysuckle, and tangerine. When oak-aged, Viognier can exhibit a richer, creamier taste with a hint of vanilla.
Due to its richness, this white wine can handle the depth and complexity of a heartier protein. It's great with dishes like roast chicken or turkey, as well as warm-flavored and spicy Indian food.
With any meal, San Simeon Paso Robles Viognier 2021 is a great pick. Featuring ripe tropical fruit flavors alongside hints of vanilla and spice, it can hold its own against the heartiest, most vibrantly spiced entrees.
Plan Your White Wine Menu With Us
Have all of these dishes left you craving a glass of white wine for yourself? Whether you choose to sip your favorite on its own or enjoy it along with a meal, the food pairings above are a great place to start.
As you experiment with different options, take note of what you love and what you don't. You might find that you prefer sweet wines, like Moscato over dry varieties, such as Chardonnay. Or, the opposite might hold true!
As you discover your preference, we make it easy to find new favorites. You can shop our full selection of white wine online today and start meal planning for tomorrow!