Follow this guide to pairing popular Old World whites that range from crisp and light-bodied to robust and aromatic.
1. Portugual – Vinho Verde
Dry, light-bodied and gently effervescent, this affordable Portuguese white is best enjoyed stingingly cold, dining al fresco. It’s lemony acidity demands seafood, be it a crispy mound of fried calamari, grilled sardines or those delightful salt cod croquettes sold at Portuguese bakeries. You could also open a bottle with a pre-dinner charcuterie plate.
Get the recipe: Salt Cod Beignets
2. Italy – Pinot Grigio
Light, crisp and fresh, there is a reason this easy-drinking white from northeastern Italy is so popular. It’s another excellent seafood wine when the preparation is simple, like poached halibut or steamed mussels. And it’s terrific with summery antipasto, especially prosciutto and melon.
Get the recipe: Linguine with Clams
3. Spain – Rueda
The crisp and fruity whites from Spain’s Rueda region are traditionally made from the Verdejo grape, though increasingly Sauvignon Blanc and Viura are thrown into the mix. Either way, serve it ice cold and pair with lighter appetizers such as sizzling garlic shrimp or a grilled vegetable salad drizzled with pesto.
Get the recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant with Anchovies
4. Austria – Grüner Veltliner
If you’ve noticed this signature Austrian white on many wine lists, it’s because sommeliers love selling it by the glass to pair with a wide range of food. It’s bracingly crisp with lychee and peppery flavours that hit the mark with seafood, veal and Asian spicing. If take-out sushi is a regular occurrence, chill a bottle to taste a match made in heaven.
Get the recipe: Chicken Schnitzel
5. Germany – Riesling
Riesling is the most food-friendly wine on the planet, especially the off-dry stuff from Germany. With incredible sweet-sour tension, it tends to be lower in alcohol, which makes it the perfect pour at lunch, whether you’re serving a croque monsieur or a smoked trout salad. Sweeter, late-harvest Rieslings are delicious with fruit desserts like tarte tatin.
Get the recipe: Scallop Curry
6. France – Burgundy
Made from Chardonnay, the exquisite white wines of Burgundy turn most oenophiles all misty eyed. Depending on the sub-region, of which there many, there is a startling difference in style. The lightest are from Chablis, which many consider to be the finest oyster wine in the world. More full-bodied Burgs from places like Montrachet are best saved for rich fare like shellfish in buttery sauces.
Get the recipe: Lobster Mac & Cheese
7. France – Gewürtztraminer
French Gewürtz, a specialty of Alsace, is flamboyantly aromatic, smelling of lychee, ginger and fresh-cut roses. Its unctuous texture, off-dry sweetness, and tropical flavours all help temper spicy Asian food, be it mapo tofu or a Thai curry. It can also handle other notorious wine-killers like smoked fish and piquant cheeses. Bold
Get the recipe: Sichuan Ribs