Pronounce it: sem-ee-yon

Chameleon grape

Semillon is a gorgeously adaptable grape that makes one of the most unique dry white wines as well as appearing in some of the world's most famous sweet wines.

Hunter Valley Semillon - produced just north of Sydney - is one of Australia's iconic dry whites. Unpromising when young, it develops into a powerful, toast-and-citrus, relatively low alcohol charmer that becomes more delicious with age.

In Western Australia and Bordeaux, Semillon is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make fine, refreshingly dry wines, sometimes aged in oak.

Around the world, Semillon is blended in with Chardonnay or Colombard to make low-priced party whites.

In warm, damp climates Semillon is susceptible to 'noble rot' which intensifies its sweetness, and the resulting luscious juice is used in making the sweet wines of Bordeaux (including Sauternes and Bergerac). In Riverina, Australia, the De Bortoli family make the sensational 'stickie' (sweet wine) Noble One.

Main characteristics

Colour: white

Body: light to full bodied

Tastes: dry styles - ripe citrus sweet styles - rich and honeyed

AKA: Semillon in France; SemChard (often used to describe a Semillon Chardonnay blend)

Often blended with: dry styles: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Sweet styles: Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, also Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano), Colombard

Spotter's guide: France: Bordeaux, in dry and sweet styles; Chile; Australia: Hunter Valley, also widely, in blends

Keep or drink? Australia's best Hunter Valley Semillons can last for easily 10 years, as can the finest of the sweet wines from Sauternes. Otherwise enjoy the wines when young

Price range: from £4.49 for a 'SemChard' to well into three figures for a top Sauternes. Good Sauvignon/Semillon blends are around £8, Hunter Valley Semillons from £12

Try it with

Fish cakes with tartare sauce
Light chicken korma
A nice rice pudding


Skills & know how

As well as helping you decide what to cook we can also help you to cook it. From tips on cookery techniques to facts and information about health and nutrition, we’ve a wealth of foodie know how for you to explore.

About BBC Good Food

We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your foodie needs.

Our recipes

All our recipes are tested thoroughly by us to make sure they’re suitable for your kitchen at home. We know many of you are concerned about healthy eating, so we send them to a qualified nutritionist for thorough analysis too.

Tell us what you think…

Love the new look or think we’ve missed the mark? We want to hear your thoughts – good and bad – to make sure we make the new website as useful as possible.


Subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine and get triple-tested recipes delivered to your door, every month.


Discover the dates and details of all the BBC Good Food Shows.


See your favourite chefs on Sky Channel 247, Virgin TV 260 and find their recipes at

Follow us

Join the BBC Good Food community by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus.