Who doesn’t love a chilled glass of white wine to beat this Bali heat? Lighter than beer and less boozy than spirits, it’s the perfect brunch, lunch or dinner companion, and with such vast options available, there’s a white wine that pairs perfectly with every palate.
In this post, we’ll go through the most common types of white wines on the market and we’ll get you ready to start discovering your palate.
Our hope is that by the end of this guide you’ll expand your understanding of white wine and you’ll be able to order your next glass or bottle without hesitation. Now let’s get ready to explore the beautiful world of white wines, get ready to take some notes, there’s a lot to learn!
How Its Made
A fun fact that you may not know is that white wine can be made with either purple or white grapes. Unlike red wine, which is made by fermenting purple grapes with the grape skins, stems and seeds still intact, white wine is made by extracting the grape juice from the skins and then fermenting only the juices with yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol. This process gives white wine its straw-yellow or yellow–gold colouring.
Similar to red wine, white wine is categorized based on the grape varietal it’s made from, there are over 20 grape varieties used around the world! We’ll go through 6 of the most popular wines and grape varietals later in this article.
Along with the grape varietal, a wine’s region of origin can affect its taste considerably. Factors such as a regions climate, the soil the grapes were grown in, the amount of sunlight the grapes receive, the minerals in the water used and altitude all play parts in forming a wine’s final flavour.
Warm climates for example tend to yield fruitier wines because the grapes grown in warm climates ripen quicker, produce more sugars and have thicker skins. Higher sugar levels allow for higher alcohol content, these wines often have full-bodies, are darker in colour and are sweeter than cold climate wines.
Cooler climates produce grapes lower in sugars, preserving its acidity making it harder for the grapes to ripen and giving it more of a tart flavour. These wines are often dry with a light-body and lower alcohol content.
Wines may also be classified by the year they were produced, this is referred to as the vintage of a wine. Generally, white wine doesn’t have as much tannin as red wines and don’t last as long when stored. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
A wine’s vintage reflects the weather patterns of the year it was produced. Based on that year’s weather wine drinkers are able to determine the harvest quality and in turn, the quality of the wines produced that year.
Wines that do not have a vintage date are called blended wines. These wines are usually more affordable everyday table wines.
Another classification you’ll be hearing often is wine’s body type, this refers to the wines texture, weight and the way it feels in your mouth.
A full-bodied wine feels heavier with a thicker coating, light-bodied wine is more watery in texture and a medium-body wine sits somewhere in the middle.
Other customary classifications include the way wine is vinified, for example, still or sparkling and the sugar content of the wine; dry (less sweet), semi-dry or sweet.
6 Classic White Wines To Try
1. Chardonnay said to be the most popular white wine in the world is named after a grape variety that originated in Burgundy, France. Chardonnay is a dry (not sweet) white wine with a medium or full body, medium acidity and low in tannins.
You’ll come across oaked chardonnay meaning it has been aged in oak barrels giving it a richer flavour and texture or un-oaked chardonnay meaning it fermented in stainless steel instead of oak barrels.
Oaked chardonnay flavours are often more creamy and buttery, flavours ranging from butter, vanilla, lemon, grapefruit, cashews and spices are commonly found in oaked chardonnay.
Un-oaked chardonnay is more floral and fruitier. Flavours may include apples, pineapple, pear and citrus.
2. Sauvignon Blanc originates in the Bordeaux region of France. Its drier than chardonnay, light-bodied and has high acidity. Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice if you are looking for a light wine with more subtle flavours.
3. Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris is a light to medium-bodied wine with high acidity. It is lighter than chardonnay and with a similar body type to sauvignon blanc. The main difference between the two is their aromatics and feel in your mouth.
Pinot grigios primary fruit flavours include nectarine, citrus, pear, and apple.
4. Riesling is known traditionally as a dessert wine and sits on the sweeter side of the spectrum with high acidity. Fruits you’re likely to taste with Rieslings are apricot, apple, peach, pineapple, citrus and nectarine.
5. Moscato hailing from Italy is made from muscat grapes is sweeter than Rieslings and is very fruity. Moscatos can be still or have a light fizz. Expect to taste notes including honeysuckle, orange blossom and mandarin orange.
6. Contrary to the name, White Zinfandel isn’t actually white. In fact, it’s a pink-coloured white wine that can range from dry to extra sweet. Originating in California it was initially made on accident at Sutter Home winery and sold off as cheap sweet wine, white zinfandels have since gained popularity especially with new wine drinkers that prefer a sweeter wine. Taste notes include strawberry, melon, cherry, raspberry and vanilla.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to wine, wine tasting is so subjective so try your best not to make any preconceived judgments before tasting each wine for yourself and figuring out what your preferences are. We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about white wine and we wish you the best of luck on your white wine journey.
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