Popular grapes & styles
Where you'll find it: Loire (central/western France)
Flavours: Green-apple, lemon grass and mineral
Style: Crisp, whistle-clean & gently mineral.
Food: Fish pie, barbequed king prawns
Drink it here: As a Monday night treat – it's relaxed enough for anyday drinking
Where you'll find it: Italy
Flavours: Green-apple, lemon, peach and almonds
Style: Light, lemony & easy drinking
Food: Simple chicken dishes & pasta (especially with fennel)
Drink it here: On the patio with plenty of Italian nibbles
Where you'll find it: Austria
Flavours: White pepper, nectarine, green-apple
Style: Intriguingly spicy but fresh-tasting
Food: Chicken Katsu curry or crispy schnitzel
Drink it here: With lightly spicy food for an adventurous combination. Grüner is also great at cutting through carbs such as noodles, dumplings or potato salad.
Where you'll find it: Chablis, Burgundy
Flavours: Wet stone, lemon and peach
Style: Pure, structured and mouthwateringly mineral
Food: Baked Camembert, Brie or shellfish
Drink it here: A beach picnic with the freshest seafood or the creamiest cheeses you can get your hands on
Where you'll find it: Spain
Flavours: Lime, almonds and herbs
Style: Elegant, fruit-forward Spanish star
Food: Fish, olives and fried almonds
Drink it here: As a post-summer holiday pick-me-up; this will take you right back to those balmy Mediterranean days
Soave: Delicate, fragrant, sushi-friendly Italian white made from the garganega grape
Vinho Verde: Lightly sparkling, fragrant Portuguese blend from local grapes
Assyrtiko: A light but full-flavoured Greek white that tastes great with Halloumi cheese
Orvieto: Dry, round but fragrant Italian white, delicious with macaroni cheese or Greek salad.
How it's made
What makes a white wine fresh, fruity and dry?
The vibrancy and pure fruitiness you'll find in these is enhanced by using inert (non-flavour giving) vessels in the fermentation and maturation process. Using huge steel tanks or concrete eggs(!) for this process means you keep the fresh, juicy fruitiness of the grapes rather than adding any of the toasty flavours you'd get from oak maturation.
You'll nearly always find these wines grown in cool climates. You might wonder how Spain and Portugal, which are usually considered warm, can make these wines such as these; but cool micro-climates can be caused by a huge range of geographical influences, such as mountain ranges (higher altitude = cooler climates) or cooling ocean currents. Climates that are less sunny mean that the grape won't reach full sugary ripeness, but have plenty of the fresh acidity that make these wines so mouthwatering.
Citrus and stone fruit flavours
Zingy citrus and juicy peach, green apple mineral and pear flavours are characteristic of these grapes. In a hot climate these flavours could develop into riper tropical-fruit flavours (think Aussie chardonnay). In Chablis however, the very same chardonnay grape keeps its mineral, citrus-fruit freshness due to the cooler climes.
Saline and mineral flavours are another delicious characteristic of some of these wines. No one knows 100% why a grape might take on mineral flavours such as wet stone, flint or salt (though you can find out more about it here) but one theory is that vines grown near the sea or on stony, mineral soils take up some of these geographically influenced flavours.
Fish & Chips
Fresh citrusy wines act like vinegar for fish and chips, cutting through rich batter beautifully.
Simple pasta and chicken dishes are perfect with these relaxed whites, especially with creamy sauces that need a bit of freshness and zing.
Seafood is the soulmate is fresh, dry whites, especially when the sun is shining.