Paula’s Wines of the Week – 22nd February 2022

Paula’s Wines of the Week – 22nd February 2022

Anything but Chardonnay: White wine alternatives

So, you’ve given up drinking white wines labelled “Chardonnay”’ made with the Chardonnay grape variety – but what can you drink instead that will be just as refreshing and fruity but without the over-the-top creamy oaky flavour that gave Chardonnay wines a bad name? Let’s look to white wines from sunny South Africa, Spain and Portugal.

Chenin Blanc wines have all the fruity apple, lemon and pear flavours you want in a white wine. And when they come from South Africa you can be sure they’ll have a touch of creamy sweetness as well.

It’s the warm climate that helps add the round and smooth flavours to wines – grapes grown in guaranteed sunshine can ripen fully and so contain maximum sweetness that moves across into the wine. So, look to white wines from South Africa, and the southern part of Europe in Spain or Portugal, if you want easy-to-like Chardonnay alternatives.

The Spanish region of Rioja makes fresh tasting white wines. Which might come as a surprise if you’ve only ever tried red Riojan wines before. Made with the commonly grown Viura grape, the results are a balance of pear, apple and melon flavours that are slightly creamy.

Portugal’s many white wine grape varieties (there’s at least 230) offer a great range of lovely white quaffing whites that are worth a try. You may see them listed under the grape varieties they are made of (Alvarinho, Verdelho, Moscatel, Fernao Pires to name a few) but also as generic Portuguese whites. The Aldi Portuguese white Douro is labelled like this and is well-worth seeking out for its 5-star flavours.

So, there are plenty of wines that are anything but Chardonnay. Go out and find them.

And if you want some more choices to tickle your taste buds then come along to the WineUncorked online wine tasting event on Thursday 10th March – Anything but Chardonnay. Booking now here. recommends

Co-op South African Fairtrade Chenin Blanc 2020
£4.80 Co-op
The Co-op’s second most popular selling wine in their range is this South African Chenin Blanc. And you can see why – it’s great value and costs less than a fiver. Apple and lemon plus pear blossom and a hint of Cheshire cheese, this has a nice mix of fruits and flowers.

Morrisons The Best Marques Los Rios Rioja Blanco 2020
£6.50 Morrisons
This Rioja is white, which might come as a surprise if you’ve only ever tried red Riojan wines before. Made with the commonly grown Viura grape, the result is a nice fruity balance of flavours – pear, apple and melon. Fresh and slightly creamy.

Porta 6 white 2020
£7.50 Tesco, Sainsbury’s
Okay so it has some Chardonnay in it. But this is mixed with native Portuguese grape varieties with added Viognier for buttery complexity. This is a great everyday wine that will match most foods and moods with its flavours of apple sponge pudding and fresh lemon.

Waitrose Loved and Found South African Fernao Pires 2021
£6.99 Waitrose
Fresh, tangy and fruity this unusual grape variety is more usually found growing in Portugal to make innocuous brandy. But transport it to South Africa and this white grape variety produces an aromatic pale-yellow wine that wafts out pineapple and tinned pears and tastes of fresh banana and lemon. A nice wine.

Aldi Portuguese White Douro
£7.49 Aldi
A great wine that has gone up £1.50 a bottle since reviewed in September 2020 but it’s still worthy of Wine of the Week. This light green wine in the expensive-looking silver and white graduated tinted bottle is both fruity and structured, making for an extremely enjoyable quaff that matches many foods and moods. The apple, pear and melon flavours are rounded off with juicy ripe lemon sweetness resulting in a balanced wine that you just want to keep drinking.

The wine rating system uses a maximum of 5 stars:

5* outstanding – the top rating given by
4* very good wine
3* good wine but over priced
2* a disappointing wine
1* little to offer
0* avoid – pour down the drain

Visit for more wine reviews, wine explanations and newsletter

Tweet me a wine question @wineuncorkeduk or email

© Paula Goddard 2022