That's a Thing? Unusual White Grapes

Yes. Yes, it is. you might not have heard of the grapes below that rest assured they are definitely worth looking into. All of them are varieties that are guaranteed to maximize your vinous bang for the buck. We have organized them by country of origin, but in some cases these varieties have ventured abroad and found homes in the new world as well:


  • Gruner Veltliner: White pepper, peach and a killer acidity make this Austrian grape dynamite and awesome on its own or with any tough to pair vegetable. Although it is not really found outside of Austria, some Californian producers have been experimenting with it. Stay tuned!


  • Aligoté: AKA Burgundy's finest...well not really. This is the table wine of France's Burgundy region. If Chardonnay is the diva, Aligoté is the underrated, understudy. At their best these wines are super fresh, crisp and apple-y. Delish!
  • Clairette: If the Southern Rhone's Grenache is Tina Turner, Clairette is one of the Ikettes. Yes, its one of many back up singers, but, damn girl, it's a head turner. Full, fragrant and floral, lending an undeniable sass to Southern Rhone blends.
  • Chasselas: The pride of Switzerland and France's alpine Savoie region. Best fondue wine ever.
  • Gewürztraminer: Or spiced Traminer in the native German. What does Traminer mean? No seriously, we don't know either ;) Just kidding. This grape is native to Germany and it's French cousin Alsace. Whatever kind of family Traminer is, Gewrz is definitely the black sheep: wild, spicy fragrant and aromatic. The best examples offer in your face aromas of rose hips, lychee nuts and sandalwood. Be careful though- get to close and you might get a touch of the vapors! The good news is that these wines are kryptonite to the impossible pairing to Indian food.
  • Grenache Blanc: This is the rug that ties the Southern Rhone White blend room together. 
  • Jacquère: This French white grape is native to the Savoie near the French Alps. The resulting wines produce an almost (forgive the phrase) Alpine freshness: green, bright and crisp.
  • Melon de Bourgogne: one of the shining stars of France's Loire valley is not a native, but a refugee from posh Burgundy. Melon de Burgundy got the booted in the 16th century - the Muscadet region in the Loire was in the midst of a cold snap. not needing their sturdy workhouse Melon de Bourgogne they loaned it to the Dutch producers who had invaded the region at the time. The result is an often yeasty, salty, citrusy wine perfect with raw bar.
  • Pinot Blanc: The red-headed step child of the Pinot family, constantly overlooked in favor of it's more glam siblings, Gris and Noir. However, it is often mistaken for Chardonnay in the vineyard and often undergoes malolactic fermentation and oak aging. 
  • Picpoul: The token crisp white of the Languedoc, from the region of Pinet.
  • Roussanne/Marsanne: These two are almost inseparable, the dynamic duo of the Rhone valley: oily, rich, and aromatic there are some gorgeous examples to be found in California but beware of too much oak. 
  • Semillon: Indigeneous to Bordeaux, this is grapoe which gives Sauternes it's oily lanolin bass note. 
  • Viognier: Another full flavored beauty from the Rhone. It flies solo in Condrieu and Chateau Grillet, but is also used in Southern Rhone white blends, and is even blended with Syrah in Côte-Rôtie. Although, it is still not a household name, it's star is on the rise in California, Australia, Argentina and even Uruguay.


  • Garganega: The primary grape in the Veneto's Soave blends. Just like the Chianti region, post-world war economic measures force an expansion of the region which lowered quality. Look for labels from the Soave Classica region for the best representations of this smooth and silky grape. 
  • Inzolia: A Sicilian white grape that offers a full body and high acidity; our favorite combo!
  • Kerner: We have yet to meet a Kerner we did not like (although truth be told we have not met many). Full bodied with a floral delicacy and high acidity.
  • The Italian Vs: Sorry to say it, but we have not found an easy way to keep these three bad boys straight unless you have tried them. Our solution? A showcase showdown of all three! In the meantime, here are the same notes from our Italy page:
    • Verdicchio: Another awesome Pinot Grigio alternative: crisp clean fresh with a piercing acidity, lemons and just a touch of bitter almond oil, make for a delightfully aperitif-y wine.
    • Vermentino: Vermentino shines in Liguria and Sardinia, where it makes crisp, clean fresh seafood friendly whites. In also lives in France under the alias Rolle, where it shines in the Provençal whites of Bellet as well as Cotes Du Roussillon white.
    • Vernaccia: This aromatic white thrives in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, home of the powerful Medici family and some gorgeous medieval towers. You will recognize wines from this region, by their representation on the labels of most local producers.


  • Assyrtiko: You might not have heard of this little gem yet, but thanks to global warming it might not be too long. This baby thrives in super hot arid climates, producing mineral driven, bone dry wines that kill it with seafood and fresh veggies.
  • Roditis: If ever a wine could be described as dripping with minerals, Roditis would be it: piercing acidity, vibrant floral notes and almost crunchy.


  • Furmint: The dominant grape in Hungary is well known for the production of Tokaji, the Botrytised sweet wine for which Hungary is famous. It also, however, produces stellar dry and sparkling wines
  • Hárslevelu: This grape means linden leaf in Hungarian, which speaks volumes about this delicately floral little grape. It is often blended with Furmint for both dry and Botrytized sweet wines. 
  • Irsai Oliver: A cross of even more obscure indigenous varieties, possesses a muscat-esque panache....and it's just fun to say!
  • Juhfark: No, You Fark! Oh sorry! We got carried away. This little gem produces the rich, fiery wines from the Somlo region. 


  • Albarino: A spritzy effervescent white, that is also used in Portugal to make Vinho Verde, the ultimate summertime sipper. 
  • Godello: A grape that is coming back into fashion in spain's Galicia region, especially Valdeorras. Don't let it's delicacy fool you, this grape is a master of expressing terroir, but is also super responsive to an expert winemakers touch. 
  • Pedro Ximenez: The grape that makes, the sweetest and richest of sherries. unbelievable with nut based desserts and tarts. 
  • Verdejo: The grape used in the production of wines from the Rueda region - vibrant and fresh. 



  • Rkatsiteli: Although this grape is native to Georgia (the one in Russia not in the southern US), it has seen a resurgence in California, New York and even Massachusetts. The wines are super complex and floral with a high acidity. 
  • Torrontes: This wine has become Argentina's signature white with its distinctive smooth texture and super floral bouquet.