After a long day of work, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand over the stove and cook an elaborate meal. Most people turn to something quick and easy.
The same rules apply to wine. Sometimes a bottle of something white, light, and reliable is the only thing that’s needed.
But that doesn’t mean drinkers have to settle for a wine as simple and uninspiring as the boxed macaroni and cheese they might make for dinner on a Tuesday night.
“When I think of weeknight wine, I want something that will make me smile when I take a sip while sitting on my couch with my feet up,” says Brianne Cohen, a wine educator in Los Angeles.
Plenty of white wines can spark a little joy in the thick of the workweek — and at a great price.
“The thing that makes a wine an everyday wine is its value. It is not something you will spend a ton of money on per bottle,” says Charles Springfield, a New York-based sommelier and author of “The Less Is More Approach To Wine.”
Crisp, refreshing everyday white wines
“For me, an everyday white wine has to be refreshing above all other qualities. The perfect everyday white is very bright with high acid but easy-drinking,” says Alexandra Schrecengost, founder and CEO of the corporate gifting and experience service, Culture With Us.
Such white wines can be found in regions across the map, from the bone-dry and lean flavors found in Muscadet from the Loire Valley to the zippy acidity and citrusy nuances of Portuguese Vinho Verde and Txakoli from Spain.
While all these white wines are light, easy to drink, and enjoyable on their own, they also have enough backbone to pair with a range of dishes, notably lighter fare and seafood.
Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde Aveleda (~$12)
This exuberant and refreshing white wine is made of a blend of some of the most popular varieties of Portugal’s Vinho Verde wine region — Loureiro and Alvarinho. Produced by Aveleda, this pale yellow wine displays fresh floral aromas that intertwine with citrus notes on the palate. Crisp acidity shines through on the back end of this easy-drinking smooth-to-the-finish wine.
Bodegas Zudugarai 'Antxiola' Getariako Txakoli (~$17)
This blend of Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza from Spain’s Getariako Txakolina appellation is fresh and full of energy. Intense aromas of sweet citrus, sea salt, and white flowers mingle with lemon, lime, and apple notes. At first sip, there is slight effervescence that evolves into a fresh and smooth, light wine balanced with juicy acidity.
Domaine de la Pépière La Pépie Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Muscadet (~$22)
If ever the weeknight mood calls for a crisp white wine with racy acidity, this white wine delivers. Produced in the western end of the Loire Valley, the wine offers a bright, crisp profile with zingy acidity. Notes of green apple, melon, and nutty complexity unfold in the aroma and on the palate. The wine finishes as bright and clean as it starts and lingers long after each sip.
Minerally, textured everyday white wines
An everyday white can still be a wine with depth. Wines with a fresh mineral edge like Albariño can be the perfect respite to a long day, while Chardonnay with a silky texture and medium-body structure can provide a more elegant drinking experience.
“Look for terms like unoaked or stainless steel on the label or shelf-talker. That is going to signify that the wine is more fruit-driven and fresh versus fuller-bodied and oaked,” says Cohen.
Azienda Agricola Cortese 'Nostru' Carricante Terre Siciliane IGT (~$15)
This certified organic and vegan wine is made in Sicily with Carricante, a grape native to Italy. On the nose, the wine is fragrant with lemon, ripe peach, and apple aromas. Meanwhile, the palate is brimming with minerality, green fruit flavors, and crisp acidity that lead to an exceptionally long finish.
Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay (~$16)
Now here’s a polished unoaked Chardonnay that doesn’t break the bank. From the Mâconnais region of Burgundy, France, this wine exudes elegant floral, apple, and citrus aromas while sapid mineral nuances appear fresh and clean on the palate. This is an easy-drinking wine with a fresh character and a medium-bodied palate that is smooth from start to finish.
Bodega Garzón Maldonado Albariño Reserva (~$18)
Bodega Garzón produces this Albariño in the Maldonado wine region of Uruguay. Peachy aromas permeate from the glass while the palate is light and fresh with crisp acidity and a mineral edge. A hint of citrus arrives on the backend through the bright finish.
Aromatic, everyday white wines
If there is anything that can give a mundane weeknight a boost, it’s an aromatic wine.
What makes a white wine aromatic? There’s no strict definition, but a wine is generally considered aromatic if the fragrances are very obvious, without the drinker needing to take a deep sniff. The heady aromas are generally caused by high levels of terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in many plants.
In the case of many aromatic white wines, the fragrance leans floral or herbal, though some are scented with citrus.
Classic aromatic varieties include the very floral Gewürztraminer, and the rich yet dry, Viognier, which classically offers scents of apricots, but whose aromas are sometimes like a bouquet of chamomile and lavender drizzled with honey. Muscat, also known as Moscato, offers mandarin, orange blossom, and honeysuckle aromas, while some Pinot Gris over-deliver on lemon and nectarine characters.
Sister Creek Vineyards Muscat Canelli (~$14)
This wine hails from Texas Hill Country and is made with Muscat Canelli grapes. You can’t miss the intense honey aromas of this wine. The palate is drenched in stone fruit and floral flavors and an elegant touch of sweetness. The wine wraps up clean with fine acidity and a note of residual sugar.
d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab McLaren Vale Viognier Marsanne (~$16)
This blend of Viognier Marsanne from the McLaren Vale of Australia opens up with fragrances of orange, pineapple, and grapefruit. But after a few moments in the glass, scents of almond, hazelnut, and green papaya emerge. The palate is just as complex with ripe fruit and spicy ginger nuances framed by vibrant, mouthwatering acidity. The finish is long, elegant, and lively.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Grüner Veltliner (~$17)
Produced in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York, this Grüner Veltliner has plenty of apple aromas — green apple, yellow apple, Red Delicious apple, all the apples — while hints of lime play in the background. The fruit is just as generous on the palate though subtle green pepper nuances and fresh minerality come alive in the backend.
Off-dry, everyday white wines
Not all everyday wines need to be bone dry, and in many cases, the bottles people reach for during the week have a touch of sweetness, though they may not realize it.
A wine can only be classified as dry if it has less than 10 grams of residual sugar per liter. Sweet wine has more than 30 grams of residual sugar per liter. Off-dry or semi-dry wines are the bottles that fall somewhere in the middle. And while they may technically be higher in residual sugar than classically dry wines, off-dry wines can still show sharp acidity with fruit flavors that taste more fresh than candied.
“After a long day of work on a Wednesday night, I want something with a nice amount of flavor — maybe with a hint of residual sugar — and moderate to moderate-minus acidity. I want something delicious that can inspire how the rest of the night will go, like a Chenin Blanc,” says Springfield.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Gewürztraminer (~$11)
Lush with stone fruit and floral aromas and flavors, this Gewürztraminer from Washington’s Columbia Valley also features clove nuances and a clean line of acidity that provides depth and structure. The finish lingers with a note of candied peach.
Mary Taylor ‘Pascal Biotteau’ Anjou Blanc (~$16)
From the Anjou region of France comes this bold and rich Chenin Blanc. This wine is loaded with the aromas and flavors of apricot and honeydew melon while a clean line of minerality provides elegance and finesse. The finish is long and mouth-filling.
Famille Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc (~$18)
This Chenin Blanc hails from France’s Vouvray region. A medium-bodied and creamy wine, it features expressive aromas and ripe flavors of pear, peach, and honey with a hint of hazelnut. A wine with a round mouthfeel, the finish lingers with an essence of candied fruit and sweetness.