Which White Wines Are Dry? | The Ultimate Guide to White Wine

Walking into a liquor or wine store can be daunting when looking for a flavorful, full-bodied white wine. The thing is, there are so many types of white wines to choose from. Some white wines are ‘dry’ while others are ‘sweet,’ but there are many distinct differences in between. Some are lower in acidity and offer buttery, oaky flavors, while others are high-acidic with refreshing, fruity aromas. 

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

The question is, which white wine should you pair with the occasion, event, or afternoon sipping you’re planning? These questions and more will be answered for you in today’s Ultimate Guide to White Wine. If choosing the perfect white wine for your party, event, or romantic dinner is your goal today, read on!

Which White Wines Are Dry? | The Ultimate Guide to White Wine

How to Tell Which White Wines Are Dry or Sweet

You can look up the highest-rated white wines, the cheapest white wines, or the most “dry” white wines, but it’s helpful to know what you’re getting yourself into first-hand. As with red wines, several factors determine what makes a white wine dry, medium, or sweet. They include acidity, body (aka weight), color, and alcohol content. Let’s take a closer look at them below:


The tart or sour taste that you experience when you drink white wine is due to its acidity. Acidity is the pH balance which, surprisingly, is when the white grapes are still ripening on the vine (i.e., the ripening stage). The longer the grapes are left to ripen in the sun, the less acidity they will have. Grapes that are harvested early, before they ripen entirely, will have a higher acidity level. Here are two examples:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc- This white has a higher acidity and thus is crisp, refreshing, and citrusy.
  2. Gewurtztraminer- More complex as it has low acidity, this white typically tastes of spice with a somewhat bitter finish.

Body (Weight)

Wine experts refer to three categories of body or weight for white wine; light, medium, and full. A wine’s body is more of an individual taste that can change from person to person. That’s because it’s determined by how the wine “feels” in your mouth. For example, the more alcohol white wine has, the more viscous (dense or thick) it feels in your mouth. Indeed, while several factors contribute to a white wine’s body, the alcohol content is the most significant factor. That allows them to preserve more of the fresh, fruity flavors that white grapes impart. Below are three examples:

  1. Riesling (Dry)- Light-bodied and fruity with between 5% and 12.5% ABV.
  2. Chenin Blanc and oaked Chardonnay are both medium-body white wines with 12.5% to 13.5% ABV.
  3. Viognier and Muscat are all considered full-bodied wines and typically have 13.5% ABV or higher.


What’s interesting about white wine is that it changes color as it goes through the fermentation process. While color doesn’t affect the wine, looking at a white wine’s color can help you determine its flavor profile. For example, if it’s pale enough for light to shine right through, it’s likely a younger and fruitier white wine. On the other hand, if the light shining through is pale-yellow, a mature, fuller-bodied white is what you’ll find.

Alcohol Content

As we’ve mentioned, white wines have different levels of alcohol content. Since white wine is from white grapes, the sugar content is typically lower. Less sugar usually means a lower ABV as less sugar is converted into ethanol (fruit alcohol). White wines usually average about 10% ABV but can be as low as 5% and as high as 14%.

Which White Wines Are Dry? | The Ultimate Guide to White Wine

There Are Many Types of Sweet and Dry White Wines

Whether you’re looking for a dry white wine or one that’s medium or full, there are plenty of choices. Below we’ll take a look at the most popular white wines, as well as their flavor profiles and some excellent pairings. Also, most importantly, we’ll tell you how to store white wine correctly. That way, it comes out of the bottle perfectly when you’re ready to imbibe!

Types of White Wine: Chardonnay

Made from the most popular white grape in the world, Chardonnay wine has a wide variety of flavors. An interesting factor about chardonnay grapes is they pick up the characteristics of the soil they’re grown in. The soil imparts flavors ranging from oaky to nutty, zesty, and several more. (Buttery chardonnays are some of the most popular.) 

  • Dry white wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Moderate acidity
  • Bright straw color to saturated gold
  • Chardonnay is typically fruity and zesty but can be fuller and buttery when aged in oak barrels.
  • Origin- Burgundy, France
  • Pair with grilled seafood or chicken with fresh veggies as well as mild cheese. 

Types of White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc

With biting acidity and notes of fruit, nuts, and grass, Sauvignon Blanc grapes are found worldwide. It’s known to be crisp and clean, with refreshing and light flavors. By the way, the name “sauvignon blanc” means “wild white” in French and is grown in cooler climates.

  • Dry white wine
  • Full-bodied
  • High acidity
  • Pale straw with hints of green
  • Lime, passion fruit, and white peach flavor profile but vanilla and custard of aged in oak barrels.
  • Origin- Loire Valley and Bordeaux, France
  • Pairs with chicken, seafood, and soft, buttery cheeses.

Types of White Wine: Pinot Grigio

Made from the Pinot Gris grape, some call this wine Pinot Grigio, and others call it Pinot Gris. Wherever name you prefer, the wine is practically the same. As with all white wines, the flavor profile of Pinot Grigio changes based on where the grapes are grown. 

  • Dry white wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Low acidity
  • Pale gold
  • Notes of melon, apple, citrus, and honey, depending on the area where it was produced.
  • Origin- Alsace, France
  • Pairs with salads, chicken, seafood, light pasta dishes and risottos

Types of White Wine: Riesling

Known as a highly versatile white wine, Riesling offers an outstanding sugar, fruit, and acidity balance. Some think it is aromatic and flowery and only comes in sweet varieties, but Riesling can also be dry. California Rieslings are typically sweet, but they can be very dry from France and Austria.

  • Sweet and dry white wine
  • Light-bodied
  • Medium acidity
  • Pale to deep yellow
  • Notes of apple, peach, pear, honey, and spice, as well as pineapple and lime.
  • Origin- Rheingau, Germany
  • Pairs with sushi, ceviche, light pasta, and fresh salads.

Types of White Wine: Moscato

In Italy, the family of grapes known as muscat provided the name for this sweet white wine, Moscato. Indeed, authentic Moscato d’Asti and Asti spumante is from the Italian town of Piedmont. However, you can find grapes around the world.

  • Semi-sweet to very sweet
  • Heavy-bodied
  • Medium acidity
  • Pale yellow to light red
  • Notes of apple, peach, pear, honey, and spice, as well as pineapple and lime.
  • Origin- Piedmont, Italy
  • Pairs with sushi, ceviche, light pasta, and fresh salads.

Types of White Wine: Gewurztraminer

Like Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer grapes originated in Alsace, France. Affordable, sweet, and fruity, Gewurztraminer is also higher in alcohol than most white wines. One notable thing is the taste of lychee, a delicious (if very weird looking) tropical fruit.

  • Semi-dry to sweet
  • Heavy-bodied
  • Low acidity
  • Light gold
  • Notes of lychee.
  • Origin- Alsace, France
  • Pairs with quiche, spicy Indian food, grilled seafood, and summer salads with fresh basil.

Types of White Wine: Chenin Blanc

A veritable wine star in the Loire Valley of France, Chenin blanc is one of the more versatile white grapes. It’s not as well-known as other white grapes, but many wine experts believe it should be. Very complex, the flavor profile of Chenin blanc can vary significantly.

  • Semi-dry to sweet
  • light-bodied
  • High acidity
  • Light, greenish-yellow
  • Notes of lychee.
  • Origin- Loire River in central-western France
  • Pairs with seared scallops, goat cheese, roast turkey, grilled seafood, pork with sweet-ish sauces.
Which White Wines Are Dry? | The Ultimate Guide to White Wine

How Is White Wine Made?

Now that you know which white wines are dry, why not learn a little bit about the process of making it! The method of producing white wine and red wine is quite similar. However, there are a few significant differences that you should note. They include:

  • White wine is made from white or, more specifically, green grapes.
  • The skin of the grapes is removed and discarded prior to fermentation the wine. (With red wine, the skins are left on during fermentation. This imparts specific colors and flavors and gives red wines a higher amount of tannins.)
  • The wine is fermented for two to four weeks at a temperature of 12 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once the fermentation process is finished, some winemakers go a step further. For example, they put their wine into new (or old) oak barrels. The barrels impart different flavors like coconut and vanilla, among others.
  • Next comes bottling the white wine and sealing it with a cork.
  • The last step; aging the wine in its bottle to encourage a broader and more complex range of flavors.

How to Make Your Own White Wine at Home

To truly explore your favorite beverage and figure out which of the dry white wines you like, try making your own wine at home. With the right equipment, a little free time, and help from local storage facilities, you too can become a great winemaker. Here’s a classic recipe to get you started. 

What You’ll Need:

  • 18 to 20 pounds of white grapes
  • 1 campden tablet
  • Tartaric acid
  • Sugar
  • 1 package wine yeast


  1. Clean your grape clusters. Check for mold, and remove all insects, leaves and stems.
  2. Place clusters in a nylon straining bag, and place the bag into a food-grade plastic pail.
  3. Using clean hands or a sanitized potato masher, crush the grapes firmly inside the bag.
  4. Crush the campden tablet, and sprinkle the powder over the fruit. Cover the pail with cheesecloth and allow it to sit for an hour.
  5. Wring out the bag to extract the grape juice into the pail; this should produce about one gallon of juice.
  6. Adjust the juice temperature between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Use a titration kit to measure the acid level of the juice. It should be between 6.5 and 7.5 grams per liter. If it’s not, adjust the acidity using tartaric acid.
  8. Adjust the juice’s specific gravity to around 22 degrees Brix.
  9. Dissolve the wine yeast into one pint of warm water. Let is stand until it you see it becoming bubbly, and then add the yeast solution. Cover the filled pail with cheesecloth, and place it in a cool location.
  10. Fermentation should start within 24 hours. Monitor the wine’s progress and temperature daily. When the must reaches dryness at about 0.5 degrees Brix, rack the wine off of the sediment into a sanitized jug.
  11. Fit the jug with a sanitized bung and a fermentation lock. Be sure that the container stays topped with white wine and the fermentation lock always contains sulfite solution.
  12. After 10 days, rack your wine into another sanitized gallon jug and top it up with white wine of a similar character.
  13. Siphon clarified wine off of the sediment and into sanitized wine bottles.
  14. Cork the bottles, and place them in a dark area. Wait three months or longer before drinking your masterpiece.

Make Northwest Part of Your Wine Storing Plans

As we’ve seen, there are many different types of white wine. At this point, you should know which white wines are dry (as well as many other valuable details including how to make your own white wine)!

At Northwest Self Storage, we help folks in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington store their wine collections daily. Our temperature-controlled storage units are perfect for storing white wine collections. Clean, safe, and secure, all Northwest storage facilities also feature an on-site manager. In other words, your prized wine collection will be very safe with us.

If you have questions about storing wine or, for that matter, anything else, please chat with us online. You can also visit a Northwest Self Storage facility close to your home. The on-site manager will help you choose the storage unit that fits your needs perfectly. Until then, we hope you enjoy all of the delicious varieties of white wine available! One thing is certain; they make some of the best dry white wines right here in our own backyard!

Check out more blogs from Northwest Self Storage

We published this post on 5/9/2016, we updated it on 1/24/2022.

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