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Help! Red wine lover needs to switch to white

I've just discovered that red wine is probably a contributor to some recent health issues (not life threatening, thank goodness). But I've mainly drunk only red wine for as long as I can remember, aside from the occasional pinot grigio during intense summer heat--or champagne whenever the mood or occasion strikes.

In general, I like pinot grigio and some chardonnays. I don't like sauvignon blanc ( it always tastes like raw grass to me.) Any suggestions?

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  1. I'm not a Chard fan (too buttery). Consider Roussanne and Marsanne; amazing white wines that go surprisingly well with many ethnic foods as well as meat (okay, a steak always needs a big red... sorry!).

    Also, you might be surprised at some of the complexity of German whites; Riesling Spatslase and Gruner Vetliners are not as sweet as their reputation portends.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Oh, Rousanne and Marsanne are such good white wines. I've mainly had the ones from
      this country. Zaca Mesa and Qupe come to mind.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Here's an older thread on American Roussanne that might help! (I can highly recommend the Tablas Creek!)


      2. re: Carrie 218

        If not a chard fan because of the butteryness why not consider going to some Chablis? It's the same grape but with the colder environment and a lot of vinyards not aging in oak you'll get a lot less of that butter flavor.

        1. re: Carrie 218

          Several California wineries produce a blend of Viognier and Marsanne. Treana is one of them. The Marsanne (usually about 1/3) really adds a dryness and complexity to this wine that makes it very special. I guess the blend is more typical with Roussane added as well.

        2. Try Spanish Albarino (there's a tilde over the n, but I'm too lazy to enter it). It reminds me of chardonnay without being overwhelmingly oaky. Nora makes a nice starter Albarino. I really like Lagar de Cervera (or something like that).

          Or just drink Champagne and sparkling wine! There are enough styles to match almost any kind of food, and you deserve it.


          1 Reply
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            Another thought - can you drink rose? (Again, I'm too lazy to enter the accent on the e...)

            There's a dynamite Australian rose that my "red wine only" friends really like: Charles Melton Rose of Virginia Barossa Valley. But it's such a deep pink that it's almost a red wine.

            Any dry, crisp European rose (Spanish and southern French are my favorites) is very tasty and great with food, especially with garlic-flavored dishes.

          2. you have my deepest sympathies....I drink red only and champagne.
            If one has to drink white..I'd go with a Montrachet....rather pricey but worth it if you have to drink white. My second consideration is another white which is much less money and easy to drink~ Picpoul De Pinet...Enjoy!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: flipkeat

              Come on, now...


              Let's try and stay within a reasonable budget.

            2. I second the recommendation for Gruner Veltliner--kinda trendy right now, but it's got some backbone, with a little edge of white pepper, usually. I also like Albarino, though I don't know much about it. And some of the southern Italian whites are up-and-comers, fun to look out for--falanghina (which I've heard referred to as "the banana wine," although don't worry--it's not at all sweet and I've never really gotten the banana aroma thing), fiano, Greco di Tufo. I was recently in Spain and had a Basque white called Txakoli--young, light, very slightly effervescent, although not sure if this would appeal if you're used to big reds. I wonder if you can drink rosés at all--that would open up a ton more possibilities. The point is, if you have to switch directions altogether, at least it would be fun to seek out some of the more obscure whites to see if you can find anything that fits your taste. Good luck!

              1. I would consider trying a Viognier ( pronounced VEE-OH-NYAY ).......I think somebody
                like Rosenblum you can find readily available around $16-18............I drink mostly reds
                and consider this grape varietal appealing as far as whites go for someone who primarily favors a red.........It has good texture and some layering that could satisfy
                your savouring for something that might be able to quench your palate somewhat like
                a red can....Hope you'll enjoy it............

                4 Replies
                1. re: jonathon

                  My Viennese friend W would be aghast at hearing Grüner Veltliner referred to as a German wine! A Germanic cépage to be sure, along those from Germany - indeed I tasted some lovely dry Rieslings and other German wines this past summer - and of course Alsace.

                  I was just about to write a Viognier - something "meaty" about it, but not the allergenic substances in reds. I've had to bone up on this as my best gf has migraine and red wine tannins are one of her triggers.

                  I wouldn't be so rude as to ask your health issues, but I've also read that red wine can be a trigger for some forms of arthritis (and not only gout). I've had a bad arthritic flareup and am avoiding red wine and red meat - I think there are some of my beloved dark green vegetables that I should avoid for a while, alas...

                  And jonathon, that is a good phonetic spelling for Viognier - of course your vowels have to be much shorter in French than in English (sorry, I'm a translator and ESL/FSL teacher...). Removing pedant's hat and pouring another glass...

                  1. re: lagatta

                    I had posted elsewhere on the board recently regarding needing a white to go with appetizers. I'm not really a white wine drinker so I have found this discussion very helpful. You've given me more leads on my search to provide an enjoyable white wine for my friends. Thank you!

                    1. re: lagatta

                      Health issues are two - migraines and rosacea. Neither is horrific nor life-threatening, but I notice that migraines do seem to come on after I drink red wine-- and particularly pinot noir, of which I am very fond. Though I tried to deny it, after just a week of not drinking red wine, I notice that the rosacea seems to have subsided, as well. Thanks to everyone who has responded so far -- your suggestions have certainly brightened my day!

                      1. re: phoebek

                        Old thread but I think OP is still reading...

                        Have you noticed a difference between french vs italian vs california reds? I can drink massive amounts of red french wine (old and young) and not get a headache but even an aged barolo or barbaresco can give me a headache the next day. So I could never make a connection between the tannins theory. Recently while in Italy, I was told by a not very reliable source that wines exported out of Italy to the US have additional sulfites added. Again, I would rank this source very low on the reliability scale, but if he is correct and it is the additional sulfites causing you headaches, maybe you could try reds from other countries?

                        Just a thought.

                        Also give white bordeaux and white CDP a try sometimes.

                  2. If you're interested in trying some white burgundies without the fancy price tags of the Meursaults and Montrachet, then I suggest Macon-Villages. You can get a decent bottle for around $14-16. Many of Macon-Villages are unoaked. One recent recommendation from an article in the Oregonia is the Henri Perrusset Macon-Villages 2004. I myself haven't tried it yet.

                    For a more minerally/flinty take on the chard, how about a Chablis? Not super cheap, but very food friendly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cattus

                      There are plenty of highly drinkable chablis out there for like 20-25 a bottle. (had I seen this post before I made mine I wouldn't have made the chablis comment above :P )

                    2. Probably the most abundant white, the easiest to like, and the most food-friendly is riesling. Start there... You might want to start by getting one bottle each of kabinett, spatlese, and auslese so you can learn the difference. These are designations of increasing grape ripeness and sweetness that you will probably find quite fascinating. Enjoy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        Vouvray is also a nice white. I find it very easy to drink and doesn't exhaust your tastebuds after a few glasses, even if drank without food.

                      2. I mostly drink reds myself but there is one white I like a lot in the summer. It is Portugese and CHEAP!! Vino Verdi I usualy get the Garcia Casal brand. It's a very young wine very slight carbonation $5 a bottle.

                        1. There are some white wines from Italy that I would characterize as "white wines for red wine drinkers". Radikon and Gravner in Friuli as well as Massavecchia in Tuscany make some of these types of wines. Radikon and Gravner make single-varietal wines such as Ribolla Gialla as well as blended wines - I think Radikon calls it "Oslavje" and Gravner calls it "Breg". Massavecchia makes a Vermentino called "Ariento".

                          1. I too drink very little white wine. However, in the warmer months, I do enjoy a chilled glass of fino sherry with a handful of almonds as an early evening aperitif.

                            As a curiosity, without being too specific, what is there about red wine that may contribute to health issues that a white wine wouldn't? Just about everything I've read and heard indicates that red wine may actually be better for one's health than white.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: redchile

                              I don't know what this poster's health issue is, but I have several friends who are unable to drink reds because of chronic migraine headaches. Also, certain medications (older classes of antidepressants) cannot be combined with red wines or aged cheeses.

                              1. re: redchile

                                I think the tannins induce the headache - that is what I remember a friend telling me when she had to give up reds.

                                No clue about the other issues.

                              2. I would recommend a wine called "Evolution" from the Sokol Glosser Vineyards. I tried it, and it's absolutely amazing!! On the label it says White Table Wine, don't let that scare you. Good wines can be cheap sometime. It's very food friendly, comparable with a Gruner Ventliner, but with a little less acidity.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: chinkymonkey

                                  Evolution is my absolute favorite wine. I consider myself preferential to reds, but always keep a few bottles of Evolution in the wine fridge. Absolutely recommend for typical red drinkers making the transition to whites.

                                2. I too suffer from terrible migraines (past 9 years) and have stopped red wine. Mine have mostly been due to hormones but recently realized they are too triggered by also food and liquor. MSG I just realized was huge after a wonderful dim sum fest one day and the left overs the next (and then 4 days in bed with a migraine). I can do a glass of zinfindel but two glasses of anything and I'm migraine bound. I'm sorry to hear - wouldn't wish on even my worst enemy.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: lexpatti

                                    Do you have a favorite white (or whites)?

                                    1. re: phoebek

                                      I don't sorry. I've really just had to stay away from alcohol in general, it's really a pain not to enjoy drinks out anymore. I didn't realize about zinfandel being higher alcohol as Chicago Mike says below.

                                      I've read lots on the ages cheeses too. When I'm ready for a good migraine (really never) I would like to test it out and see if a great cheese fest will bring one on. I haven't done dim sum since that big one.

                                    2. re: lexpatti

                                      One thing specifically about zinfandel... it is a very high-alcohol wine...

                                      It might be the alcohol levels in the red wines that is bothering the poster... if that's the case, then again, riesling is a relatively "low alcohol" wine you might want to consider.

                                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                                        It is the tannins in red wines that are the trigger. Similar triggers are found in aged and blue cheeses (alas!)

                                        Doubt it is a matter of the alcohol - the original poster would have figured that out by him or herself.

                                        1. re: lagatta

                                          Orvieto is a lovely choice for a flavorful white, at a reasonable price. I drink primarily red wine, but when drinking white, look for fuller bodied wines. There are some unoaked Chardonnays out of California that, lacking the buttery or woody taste that is so popular, focus more on the clean fruity taste of the grapes. Kunde puts out a "nu chardonnay" without oak.

                                          Good luck!

                                          1. re: rruben1

                                            I really like Sancerre. I too have rosacea. I prefer red wine and still drink it from time to time, but I pay the price with tomato red cheeks!!

                                            1. re: Flour Child

                                              Yeah, I'm planning to do the same thing when I just can't resist, and I'll pay for it with a red nose.

                                              1. re: Flour Child

                                                For the rosacea, get a Metrogel prescription from your doctor.

                                                1. re: Flour Child

                                                  Flour Child, the OP noted that she doesn't like Sauvignon Blanc. Which is unfortunate, as I'm with you - I really like Sancerre, too! Probably my favorite region for sauv blanc.

                                                  Maybe she'd go for a nice muscadet sur lie?

                                        2. I have been known to add Conundrum to a meal course that cries for red, when there are white-only drinkers in the group. It's a SB, Chard, Viognier, Muscat blend from Caymus, and holds its own. Lately, the blend has been fruit-forward and floral (though less floral, than the late '90s - maybe less Muscat) with a good mouthfeel. As mentioned in several earlier threads, it's been our "house white" for about 12 years now. It handles heat, most smoke, Eastern spices, Mexican spices and is a chameleon, depending on the dish/preperation.


                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            Bill, I was exactly like you... but, as you indicate, it HAS become fruit-forward and sweeter, losing much of its depth. Like you, I have been drinking it just as long as lament that when the brand was sold (six, eight years ago?) the bottles got screw caps, the price went up, and the quality diminished considerably.

                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              conundrum is available both at LA wine company and at Cost Plus World market right now for under $20/bottle

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                Wines Till Sold Out is now selling it for $18, matching the LA Wine Co. in-store price.
                                                i believe, however, that WTSO may be able to sell without charging local sales tax, whereas, LA Wine Co would have to charge either local sales taxes or shipping charges to send to another state, adding to the cost.

                                            2. I'd urge you to revist sauvignon blanc, particularly those from New Zealand. Sancerre always tastes grassy to me, but I enjoy that in a SB. New Zealand SB's are much more fruit forward typically without the herbal quality of Sancerre or even Napa, and an easy transition from dry reds. Kim Crawford makes a phenomenal SB at a killer price. I'd also encourage you to explore German trocken reislings (i.e., dry), which again is an easy transtion from reds. I'm blessed with Moore Bros stores near my home, and as a preferred red-wine drinker myself, am always psyched to pick up a dry Reisling from Keller, Ratzenberger, or Peter Jakob Kuhn. Seek them out if you can. Closer to home, CA is producing some killer pinot blanc's (and SB's for that matter) that red wine freaks can fall in love with. The albarino suggestion is also worth exploring, as are white burgandies or sonoma chards, but if malolactic fermatation and over over-oakiness is not your cup of tea (it isn't for me), it's hit or miss on albarino and chard unless you do your research first.

                                              As for Conundrum: great wine, but a stretch for dry red wine drinkers due to the residual sugars in this one plus low acidity. If you really want to go down the sweeter path, late harvest reislings would be a good place to start. But seriously, try a trocken first.

                                              Have fun exploring... but watch out for the sparklers as suggested earlier. Many of them are pinot noir based. Great for me (god i love a nice blanc de noir!), but not so good if you have alergies.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jwjon1

                                                Kim Crawford SB changed me from red to white like *that.* At first taste, you go - hm, I don't know. And then, suddenly, no other wine will do. It's wonderful and now at Costco (in MO) for $14!!! Praise be. Or, at grocer for under $20. Great wine

                                              2. I'm really hooked right now on Chumeia Chardonnays. I'm partial to red wines, mostly Syrah, melbec's and zin's but lately have come across this wine from Paso Robles - it's full bodied, it's hearty, buttery (in a good way) and smooth - unlike many 'eggy' Chard's I've had. Oh, did I mention the legs...it's got legs forever. It's a wonderful wine. Chumeia winery is in Paso Robles - check it out.

                                                1. I am so sorry, I can really empathize with you!!! I had Rombauer Chardonnay at a wine tasting party that was attended by mostly red wine lovers. It got high marks from everyone.


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                    if you like rombauer (very buttery), you will probably also like trinitas chardonnay

                                                  2. Try these....

                                                    -Greco di Tufo tends to be straw yellow in color with a bit of gold tints. Various fruits contribute to the taste of Greco di Tufo, but this doesn't mean it’s sweet! Apples, white peaches, apricots, and local citrus fruits are blended together give the wine its unique taste. Greco di Tufo can be paired with shellfish, grilled fish and chicken, soft cheeses (mozzarella di bufala).

                                                    -Falanghina is pale, bright yellow. Falanghina is an excellent beginning to dinner with antipasti. It’s light, fresh, and clean. Local annurca apples are the key aroma along with hints of nutmeg and maybe a bit of toasted Virginia tobacco. Serve with seafood, vegetables, risotto, carpaccio, chicken, turkey, and soft cheeses.

                                                    -Fiano di Avellino's medium gold appearance is telling of the toasted hazelnuts, almonds, and honey that highlight its fabulous taste. Native flowers, pears, apricots, and citrus fruits may be detected along with acacia (native tropical trees), hawthorn (native thorny trees or shrubs), mint, and fennel. An ideal aperitif when served with seafood, oysters, and shellfish.