Food & Drink

Ditch the Sauvignon: 5 Lesser-Known White Wines You Have To Try

It’s easy to play it safe with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay when you’re presented with an extensive wine list. However, when there are 20 different white wine grapes that are popular around the world, it’s always worth picking something less familiar. After all, it could end up replacing your favourite bottle. To give you some inspiration, here are five lesser-known white wines you have to try.

1. Trento

If you have a penchant for Prosecco, see what you think of Trento: an Italian sparkling wine from the Trentino-Alto Adige region. This is made mostly from Chardonnay, and sometimes also the Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero and/or Pinot Meunier grape varieties. The primary flavours are lemon, yellow apple, white cherry, almond, and toast. Take your pick from two sparkling white wines – one with a short aging period and one with a longer one.

Food pairing: This is a great white wine for pasta lovers. According to experts at Pasta Evangelists, “the strong fruity notes in Trento, including citrus, yellow apple and white cherry, make it a perfect pairing for a lemony pasta dish. They add: “The bright acidity characteristic of Trento is also perfect for balancing creamy pasta dishes.”

2. Sémillon

According to Wine Folly, Sémillon is one of the most planted white wine varieties in France. This is a rich white wine, with its primary flavours including lemon, beeswax, yellow peach and chamomile. Depending on whether it was produced in a hot climate or a cold one, you may also taste mango, papaya, lime zest and grapefruit.  

Food pairing: Sémillon pairs beautifully with white meats like chicken and pork, as well as rich fish such as black cod. 

3. Torrontés

If you’re a fan of New World wine, you can’t go wrong with the Argentinian Torrontés. There are three varieties – Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino – with Torrontés Riojano usually considered the best and most aromatic. Expect distinctive peach and apricot aromas and the taste of lemon, peach, rose, geranium, and citrus zest.

Food pairing: Torrontés is fantastically versatile. In an interview for Forbes, Julia Zuccardi of the Zuccardi Wines Winery explained: “Torrontés is a perfect wine to be drunk as a refreshing aperitif or as a match for delicate fish and seafood flavors. Torrontés is also great for typical Argentinean empanadas and goes very well with aromatic dishes and spicy cuisine like Indian, Chinese or Thai food.”

4. Marsanne

Marsanne grapes originate in France but the wine is actually better known in Australia. In fact, Victoria has the largest planting of Marsanne vines in the world. Marsanne is mostly used to make dry, still wines. Young varieties tend to taste rich and nutty, with hints of spice and pear, and can develop more complex and concentrated flavours as they age.

Food pairing: BBC Good Food recommends drinking Australian Marsanne alongside fish, as well as “strong-tasting vegetables like asparagus, and soft cheeses”. The heavier French variety is best enjoyed with fatty foods, such as pork shoulder.

5. Silvaner

Silvaner will probably be to your taste if Pinot Gris is your tipple of choice. This is one of the most common white wine varieties in Germany and is more neutral compared to something like Riesling. The wine tends to be more dry than fruity with gentle, floral flavours and aromas.

Food pairing: Thierry Fritsch, head oenologist and chief educator at the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace, describes Silvaner as “a real picnic wine”. In an interview with Wine Enthusiast magazine, he said: “Due to its freshness and gentle bitterness, it’s the perfect companion for salads, tapas, shellfish and grilled fishes,” as well as meaty seafood like swordfish and scallops, plus vegetables.

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