White wine is appropriate for several occasions, from a formal dinner party to a barbecue or an aperitivo. Make sure to store, serve, pair, and drink white wine the right way.

white wine

What white wine etiquette is

White wine etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink white wines. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow white wine etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect white wine etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about white wine

White wine is a wine that is fermented without contact with the skin of the grapes. It can be obtained by fermenting white or red grapes.

There are several varieties of white wine, based on the type of grapes used, the winemaking method, and the amount of residual sugar. White wines can be dry, sweet, or sparkling.

White wines are produced in almost every wine region of the world. 

how to serve and drink white wine

Etiquette rules for serving and drinking white wine

1) How to store white wine

Store white wine in a cool place. Keep the bottle away from direct light and from any source of heat.

Store the bottle in a horizontal position, to keep the cork moist. Dry corks might let the oxygen in and spoil the wine. Do not store white wine in the fridge.

2) How to prepare white wine

Most white wines do not need decanting. You should decant only a strong or aged white wine.

Place white wine in a bucket of water and ice 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Alternatively, place it in the fridge at least one hour before serving.

3) How to serve & present white wine

The ideal serving temperature varies based on the type of white wine. In general, it is best to serve most white wines chilled but not cold. The ideal temperature is usually between 10°C and 13°C (50°F and 55°F).

Present white wine in its bottle. After opening the bottle, you should place it in a bucket of water and ice to keep it chilled.

It is good etiquette to open the bottle at the dining table.

Serve white wine in white wine glasses, which have a smaller belly than red wine glasses. Hold the bottle by its body, never by its neck or cork. Fill the glass between ⅓ and ½.

4) When to serve & drink white wine

White wines can fit any occasion.

You can and should serve at least one white wine on formal occasions. Such as a formal dinner party.

However, white wine is ideal for most informal occasions too. Serve dry white wine as an aperitif or at an aperitivo. Or at a barbecue, picnic, brunch, or light lunch. Rich or fruity white wine is ideal for pairings with a salad, fish, or seafood course. You can serve sweet white wines to accompany a fruit salad or dessert, or after a meal.

5) Food & aromas to pair white wine with

The ideal pairings depend on the type of white wine.

In general, white wines are the best wine to pair with fish and seafood. Such as oysters, sea bass, scampi, or lobster.

Prefer white wines over red wines to accompany delicate flavors. Salads. Unaged cheese. White meats. Avoid pairings with spicy and salty foods, very savory food, BBQ-sauced foods, or pizza.

6) Etiquette for drinking white wine

Drink white wine in white wine glasses. Hold the glass by its stem to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

Drink it in small sips. A glass of white wine should last between 10 and 20 minutes. Never drink shots of white wine.

In general, adding ice to white wine is against etiquette.

white wine etiquette mistakes

White wine etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst white wine etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots of white wine.
  • 7/10. Not holding the glass by the stem. 
  • 5/10. Overfilling the glass.
  • 3/10. Pairing white wine with the wrong food.

Additional information for properly serving white wine

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

On average, white wine contains about 80 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). A glass of white wine is typically 150 ml (5 oz) and contains 120 calories.

How to buy the best

A crucial factor in white wine etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

There are countless white wines in commerce. To choose the best, start with how you want to serve it.

For example:

  • On which occasion?
  • At what temperature?
  • Do you need to pair it with a specific food or aroma?
  • How many guests?
  • What is your budget?

Such questions help you narrow down the options. Then, you can check our etiquette guides for specific wines and research on specialist websites online.