First, let us just say: Stepping outside of your comfort zone is scary. We get it. Try these white wines for red wine drinkers based on your favorite red wine! Many people start out drinking red wine, and don’t ever make the leap to white wine. Why is that? When you find something you like, you tend to stick with it.
It’s totally normal, and we’re not here to judge. However, certain misconceptions about white wine can lead people to believe they won’t like it. “White wine is too sweet,” for instance. Well, some white wines are sweet, but others are bone dry. Some have floral aromas, some are fruity, and others taste like minerals and saline.
There are so many different kinds of white wine to try, and often the thing stopping someone from trying a new varietal is that they simply don’t know where to start. We want to help clear things up. Use this guide – 6 white wines for red wine drinkers based on the red you already love!
Getting to Know Your PaletteWhen you’re ready to make the leap from the red aisle to the white aisle, it helps to understand what you love about your favorite red.
When we say intensity, we’re talking about a few qualities: the wine’s body, its alcohol level, and even its color. If you like a bold, dark wine like Shiraz for its richness and intensity, you’ll want to look for a similarly intense white wine. On the other hand, if you like a light red wine that you can sip with grilled chicken or tofu, you’ll probably enjoy a lighter white wine.
If you’re drawn to a particular flavor note in red wine – say the bright cherry and hint of banana in Beaujolais – then you might like a fruity white wine with notes of ripe tropical fruit. Flavor notes are often listed on the wine label if you’re unsure of what to expect from a new bottle, or you can ask your local wine merchant to help you pick a winner.
When in doubt, remember: what grows together goes together. This adage comes in handy for pairing wine with food, and it can also help you choose a wine with a similar terroir. Terroir refers to the way the climate, soil, and local winemaking style affects wine. If your favorite bottle of red is from an Old-World region in Europe and has a nice amount of acidity, not too much fruit, and a hint of earthiness, you should try a white wine from the same (or a similar) region. Alternatively, if you prefer a bold, fruit-forward California red, you should try a white wine from California or a New-World region like Australia or Argentina.
What to Try Next
1. If you like Pinot Noir, try Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir is a popular light-bodied red wine, so if this is your go-to red, your best bet is a light-bodied white wine like Pinot Grigio. If you’re into delicate Oregon Pinot Noir, try an Italian Pinot Grigio, which is often drier and more minerally than Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) from France. You could also try a very light Chardonnay, like white Burgundy. On the other hand, if you prefer a fruitier Pinot Noir from California, you may enjoy a riper, fruitier variety of Pinot Grigio.
2. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, try Sauvignon Blanc
Cabernet and Merlot are both medium- to full-bodied red wines with complex notes of berries and baking spices. If you like one of these reds, try Sauvignon blanc – a fruity and complex white wine. The style and flavors of Sauvignon blanc can vary depending on where it’s made. Check out a grassy Sauv Blanc with bright fruit notes from New Zealand. Or try a vibrant and minerally Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc made in a certain part of France).
3. If you like Chianti, try an Old-World White Wine
Chianti is an Italian red wine with a mix of fruity and earthy notes, strong acidity, and structured tannins. If you love Tuscany’s famous red, try a white wine from Tuscany or another Old-World region, like the Loire Valley in France. The Loire Valley produces a unique variety of Chenin Blanc that Chianti lovers should be sure to check out. It’s called Savennières, and it’s a complex, medium-bodied white wine with notes of quince, honey, and a smokey minerality.
4. If you like Malbec, try a Portuguese White Wine
Today, most Malbec comes from Argentina. It’s known for its full body, dark fruit notes, hints of vanilla, and cocoa. If you love this silky red wine, try a white wine from southern or central Portugal – another warm-climate region that’s known for bold, fruit-forward, and refreshing white wines. Branco – the white blend from the Alentejo region – would be a solid place to start.
5. If you like Zinfandel, try Grüner Veltliner
Zinfandel is a bold red wine known for its big fruit flavors, strong acidity, and notes of spice. If this is your jam, check out Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian white wine known for its zesty acidity and notes of citrus and white pepper.
6. If you like Syrah, try Torrontés
Syrah, or Shiraz as it's known in Australia, is one of the deepest, darkest red wines out there. If you love this full-bodied red with notes of dark fruit, rosemary, and smoke, you’ll want a white wine with just as much intensity. Try Torrontés – a medium-bodied white wine with aromas of lemon zest and white flowers. If your preference is Australian Shiraz, go for a Torrontés from Argentina, another new-world region known for making rich wines.