All about White Wine
There are seemingly endless options when choosing a white wine to sip on. Are you looking for a dry white wine or one that leans towards the sweeter side? Do you prefer one that pairs well with salmon or goes perfectly with a roasted chicken? Are you searching for a bottle you can save for a special occasion or one to be sipped now? Whatever your preference, there is sure to be a white wine that fits your taste - each ranging in acidity, body, color and flavor.
So, how do you know which ones to choose? On one side of the spectrum you can experience a full-bodied, medium-acidic Chardonnay that expresses oaky and buttery flavors and on the other end enjoy a light, refreshing high-acidic Pinot Grigio with melon, green apple and floral aromas. We are here to break down the basics so you can easily decipher which white wine you should buy.
You typically hear descriptors like acidity and body when referring to wine. But what does that mean in the realm of white wine? How are these characteristics formed and what do they mean for your palate? Acidity is the pH balance in the wine that gives it its tart or sour taste, like the slight pucker you experience when enjoying a lemonade. This trait is determined during the ripening stage of the grape on the vine. The longer they ripen, the less acidity the grape will have, and vice versa. If you are looking for a wine with a higher amount of acidity, with crisp and refreshing flavors of citrusy fruit, go with a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc. If that’s not your style, check out a Gewurztraminer, which typically contain lower levels of acidity, providing a smoother sip.
The body of the wine will play a major factor in your quest to picking out the wine for your occasion. Also referred to as the weight of the wine, the body is a result of how it feels in your mouth, sorted into three categories: light, medium and full. Many factors contribute to this, but alcohol percentage is the main component which is developed through the fermentation process. White wines are fermented in a cooler temperature than red wines to preserve the fresh fruit flavor, but can also embody the robust, full-bodied traits similar to one of red. If your occasion calls for pairing with light hors d’oeuvres, go for a light-bodied sparkling wine or dry Riesling. These varietals will contain a lower ABV and are crisp on the palate. If you’re spending a night enjoying a hearty meal, pick up a Viognier. Its higher ABV makes it medium to heavy in body, containing rich flavors, perfect for your meal choice.
Many components can determine the flavor of your wine, but one way to recognize them is through the color - ranging from pale straw to deep hues of yellow and gold. Next time you pour yourself a glass of white wine, take a minute to hold it up to the light. Does light shine right through it? Chances are it’s a younger wine, light in body and high in acidity. Does the wine cast a pale-yellow hue on the table? That probably indicates a richer wine that spent some time aging in oak barrels before bottling.
The color of a wine changes throughout the wine making process and its final product is determined through the last stage - aging. There are two options when aging wine: age in oak barrels or steel tanks. This choice is up to how the winemaker wants the wine to look and taste. Aging in oak barrels increases the wine’s exposure to oxygen which decreases the tannin, producing a smoother, rounder flavor. A steel tank will conceal the wine’s zesty, fruit forward aromas.
Once bottled, most white wines today are meant to be enjoyed when released from the winery, but if you need to store it for a later date, keep your whites in a cool, constant temperature away from light and laying on the side. Ever wonder if your white wines expire? Each wine has its prime age to be enjoyed at, so reach out to one of our wine experts during your next visit to find out how long your bottle can age for.
Chardonnay’s ability to adapt and absorb the soil’s characteristics has made it one of the most popular grapes found around the world, including the wine regions of Chablis, Champagne and California. You can find flavors ranging from mineral and zesty to oak and nutty.
Learn more about Chardonnay.
Whether you call this wine Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris would depend on the region the wine came from, but they are essentially the same, each made from Pinot Gris grape. The flavors and aromas also depend on which region the grape is grown in, ranging from full-bodied wines with lower acidity and citrus and honey flavors in Oregon to light-bodied, vibrant crisp acidity with notes of melon and apple in California.
Originating in the region of Rhone, France, this white grape varietal is aromatic with flowery expressions and high acidity. Most assume all Rieslings are sweet, but there are many that are very dry. California and some German Rieslings can be sweeter, while Rieslings from France, Austria and Washington tend to be dry.
With smell of lychee fruit, this grape produces aromatic, semi-sweet white wines. Many have been known to graduate from Moscato to drinking Gewürztraminer. When finding food to pair, exotic cuisines like Thai or Moroccan-inspired dishes balance the grapefruit and pineapple flavors.
Derived from Loire Valley, France, this white wine grape carries high acidity. It’s a versatile grape that can produce dry, semi-dry, sparkling and dessert wines. Expect to experience floral aromas with apple and pear-like flavors.