France’s 3rd Most Important White

The word ‘Cabernet’ slips so easily off most people’s lips we forget that in the 1950’s, most Americans didn’t even know what Cabernet Sauvignon was. In the mid-century, Americans felt that Cabernet Sauvignon was too difficult to pronounce. So now that Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have become the norm it’s time to get familiarized with some new wine grapes. Get your glasses ready.

Sémillon wine is loved for its full body, like Chardonnay, but with flavors closer to Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. It’s an important blending component in White Bordeaux and is also planted throughout Australia. In the US, Sémillon wines are usually a great price for their quality. Despite how cheap it is, Sémillon has the pedigree to be alongside the most popular white wines in the world. Find out all about Sémillon wine; how way it tastes, where it grows and what you’ll enjoy eating with it.

Sémillon Wine Taste

The primary fruit flavors in Sémillon wine are lemon, apple, pear and green papaya. There’s something very waxy about the taste of Sémillon which wine writers often describe as lanolin. Depending on where Sémillon is grown it can range from being a zesty, palate-cleansing wine like Sauvignon Blanc to a rich, creamy, lemon-flavored wine like oaked Chardonnay.

Sémillon (Semillon) Wine Characteristics

FRUIT FLAVORS (berries, fruit, citrus) Lemon, Lime, Yellow Grapefruit, Citrus Zest, Apple, Pear, Green Papaya, Peach, Mango

OTHER AROMAS (herb, spice, flower, mineral, earth, other)

Lanolin, Hay, Honeysuckle, Wax Lips, Saffron, Fig, Honey, Ginger

OAK FLAVORS (flavors added with oak aging)

Butter, Pie Crust, Cream, Dill, Popcorn




Unoaked: 45 ºF (8 ºC); Oaked: 52 ºF (11 ºC)


Hot Climate Sémillon: Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Alsacian Pinot Gris, Viognier          Cool Climate Sémillon: Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Italian Pinot Grigio


Sémillon is commonly blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle in White Bordeaux.

Sémillon is also the primary ingredient in Bordeaux’s noble rot dessert wines which include Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, Loupiac, Sainte-Crox-du-Mont, Cérons and Premieres Côtes de Bordeaux.


Sémillon Food Pairing

Think spiced. Because Sémillon wine has a moderate body, whilst maintaining a fresh zippy flavor, it holds up to bolder aromatic dishes. Try Indian spices, Asian spices, even brown woodsy spices like cinnamon and star anise.

Currently White Bordeaux has a reputation as a sushi lover’s wine. No doubt this reputation is due to how Sémillon balances raw fish and pickled ginger. A classic dish with Sémillon dessert wines (like Sauternes) is Foie Gras. We also think it’s ridiculously good with salted caramel ice cream.

Meat Pairings
White meats including Chicken, Pork Chop, Ham, Turkey, Foie Gras and Duck. Fish including Trout, Arctic Char, Catfish, Red Snapper, Grouper, Skate, Cod, Hake, Blackfish, Haddock, Redfish, Halibut, Black Cod, Monkfish, Chilean Seabass, Escobar

Spices and Herbs
Coriander, Clove, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Turmeric, Saffron, Dill, Chive, Cilantro, Shallot

Cheese Pairings
Look for richly flavored and nutty cow’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses. Examples: Compté, Gruyere, Cheddar

Vegetables & Vegetarian Fare
Go for spiced, stewed and roasted vegetables. Try salads with citrus-based dressings and dried fruits and nuts. Look for these ingredients: Kabocha Squash, Butternut Squash, Corn, Almond, Sesame, Carrot, Bell Pepper, Green Onion, Zucchini, Leek, Potato, Yam