Starter Guide – Lesser Known White Wines To Explore

Happy Weekend,

Depending on your current hemisphere, white wine is either the first or last thing on your mind.

But, your enjoyment of white wine doesn’t have to be seasonal. We’ve made Rosé season a year-long affair. It should be the same for white wine.

However, beginners get stuck in the rut.

They see only Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Listen: they are delicious, but they are far from the only white wines.

So, consider this email your permission to explore white wines with unfamiliar names.

Here are four lesser known whites wine you should start enjoying today.


Earlier this year, my friend Cathy wrote to tell me about Picpoul and picnics. I’d be hard pressed to think of a better pairing. Cathy said:

“I’ve been enchanted this summer primarily by the very simple wine of Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.”

She’s spot on.

Great examples are available from the Southwest of France, where Picpoul translates to “stings the lips.”

I’ll never forget the Bonny Doon Picpoul from California stinging my lips while sitting at the girl & the fig bar during my first trip to Sonoma.

Pinot Gris

Some people don’t realize that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape variety. Hooray, an easy Italian wine variety name to remember.

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinot Gris.

The hate comes from getting stumped by a Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio on my WSET 3 exam. The bitter, sloppy taste still hangs in my mouth.

But that feeling is mostly overshadowed by all the fun, lovely examples I’ve had of Pinot Gris over the years.

For the most part, I sidestep Pinot Grigio (except those from Tretino-Alto Adige), and I opt for Pinot Gris from Oregon and Alsace.

On Thanksgiving, I had the Au Bon Climat Hildegard White Blend which is Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc blend that was remarkably fun and distinctive. Most of the fruit comes from the iconic Bien Nacido Vineyard in California.


If I’m going to pick up an Italian white wine that starts with “P”, I’m going with Pecorino.

More than a cheese, Pecorino is a versatile wine with many styles. Great acidity and beautiful fruit flavors, it’s a joy to drink.

Back in October, I drank the Ciprea Pecorino with a charcuterie board for a late lunch on a Friday afternoon. It was well-matched with an unseasonable warm day— sunshine in a glass, crisp air, blues skies.

Portugal – Vinho Verde

Portugal’s most famous white wine is Vinho Verde and rightfully so.

It’s inexpensive, easy-drinking, slightly fizzy fun. It’s also low in alcohol and is the perfect wine to light up your palate.

Serve ice cold and pair with spicy or fried food. Hell, you can even do both. A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a Vinho Verde—complete with ice cubes—with some buffalo chicken wings.

Proof that fun wine pairings don’t have to be expensive.

4 Ps of White Wines To Explore

  1. Picpoul – Southwest France
  2. Pinot Gris – Alsace, Oregon
  3. Pecorino – Italy
  4. Vinho Verge – Portugal

Sorry for cheating a bit on the last one.

Want More Starter Guides?

If you enjoyed this starter guide, be sure to check out others from previous newsletters:

Wine Book Gift Ideas for Creative/Visual/Artistic Types

There are lots of wine books.

Worse yet, there are many fluffy wine book recommendation articles recommending the year’s most recent releases.

To combat this trend,I curated a very specific list of books that are perfect for the creative/visual/artistic types who also love wine.

1/2) The Grapes of Ralph and Untrodden Grapes by Ralph Steadman

If you love the artwork of Ralph Steadman and you love wine, you need both of these books in your library.

3) Dali: The Wines of Gala by TASCHEN

Wine can be a surreal experience, and this beautiful book would look great in any cellar.

4) Noble Rot: Wine From Another Galaxy by Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew

If wine writing had a punk band, it would be Noble Rot. Edgy, humorous, and fun, this book riffs on the style of the eponymous wine magazine.

5) Veritas by Jimmy Hayes

Stunning photographs of the real work behind California wine.

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