One Size Doesn’t Fit All: White Wine Guide

Have you ever stood in front of the wine aisle at the supermarket and were unable to choose one despite the hundreds of bottles vying for your attention? How do you decide which of the many bottles of wine would not only provide good value for money but will also taste good and complement your evening meal?

Making the selection is either completely random for most of us, or an exercise in submission to the same bottle you bought last week, the week before that, and the week before that. The only way out of the randomness-versus-routine issue is to understand the flavour characteristics of each wine. So, if you prefer drinking white wine, there are a few things you should know before choosing a nice bottle.

Chardonnay

Chalk Hill - Chardonnay White Wine
Source: foleyfamilywines.com

Chardonnay is dry, medium-to-full-bodied, and acidic, with mild tannins. With tastes ranging from apple and lemon, to papaya and pineapple, plus undertones of vanilla when aged in oak, the versatile variety of chardonnay white wine is the most widely available wine on the market that appeals to every audience.

Chablis, France, is a well-known Old World Chardonnay wine-growing area. Climates akin to Chablis are typically cold, giving Chardonnay wine a unique leaner character. These lighter-bodied chards are usually accompanied by pear, green apple, melon, and delicate apricot aromas.

On the other hand, Chardonnay cultivated in warmer climates tends to emanate richer tropical fruit aromas, such as guava, peach, pineapple, and banana. While Chardonnay thrives on chalky and clay soils, it is also a highly adaptable vine. When given the proper amount of attention during the growing season, it can adapt to most soil and climatic types.

Crisp, clean, unoaked chardonnay white wine, such as Chablis, pairs nicely as an aperitif with goat cheese, as well as oysters, shellfish, or delicate fish. Medium-bodied wines complement swordfish, white meats such as chicken and pig tenderloin, and mature cheeses such as gruyere and gouda. Higher alcohol fat, rich, oaky styles can tolerate thicker cream sauces, grilled meats with higher fat content, and even game birds.

Sauvignon Blanc

Cloudy Bay - Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
Source: dailymoss.com

It’s crisp, dry, and fruity, but it’s the green-and-grassy aromas and stinging acidity that sets Sauvignon Blanc apart from all of the other wines. From Bordeaux to New Zealand, California, and beyond, this grape is widely grown around the world, which makes it one of the most popular white wines in the world.

It’s created from green-skinned grapes that can thrive in a variety of climates, resulting in food-friendly wines at a variety of pricing ranges. Because of its low sugar level, this wine is best served young, within 18 months after its vintage. Sweet Sauvignon Blancs with high sugar content, on the other hand, age nicely and can be kept for a long period of time.

Sauvignon might be sharp and green or luscious and tropical, but it always has its own signature acidity. It’s refreshing, easy to recognize, and there’s a style for everyone, which is why Sauvignon Blanc’s fan base continues to increase. Sauvignon Blanc has various synonyms, including Sauvignon, Fumé Blanc from the United States, Muskat-Silvaner from Austria, and Feigentraube from Germany.

Moscato

Moscato is a sweet, medium to low-acidity wine made from Muscat grapes in Italy. The Muscat grape is planted all over the world, from Australia to France to South America, and is said to be one of history’s oldest grapes. A short note on Muscat nomenclature: Moscato is the Italian term for Muscat, and different nations have different names for the Muscats they manufacture.

In Spain, the term “Moscatel” is used, whilst in Germany, it is called “Muskateller”. Technically, this wine comes from Italy, as Muscat grapes flourish in the warm, Mediterranean climate of Italy. They can be found from Piedmont and Trentino Alto-Adige to the southern islands of Sicily and Pantelleria, with each location creating a wine with distinct Moscato qualities.

While there are over 200 recognized Muscat grape varietals, the most popular are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat of Alexandria. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is the most widely planted grape for Moscato wine in Italy, followed by Muscat of Alexandria.

Moscato is sweet, thus it should be paired with dishes that have opposing taste profiles, spicy, sour, salty, bitter. While its sweet fruity flavour might make it difficult to combine with the main course, Moscato pairs well with appetizers, sweet brunch foods, dessert, and can be used as an aperitif on its own.

Pinot Grigio

Terlato - Pinot Grigio White Wine
Source: vinepair.com

Though at first glance it may be confused with the tasty Chardonnay white wine, you’d easily distinguish it for being much lighter. As a light-bodied, dry wine it’s got scents of lemon-lime, pear, and stone fruits such as peach and apricot. Almond, baking spices, and honeysuckle fragrances may also be detected. Flavours range from melon to green apple, and some even have a faint tropical or citrus fruit taste. There are frequently honey, raw almond, or mineral components as well.

The wine’s acidity ranges from medium to high, preventing it from becoming too sweet. Pinot Grigio goes exceptionally well with shellfish, sushi, and ceviche. Also, it goes well with light pasta dishes and cheeses such as gruyere and manchego. Because the wine is fairly acidic, it is best to avoid matching it with meals that contain a lot of acids, such as citrus fruits or tomato-based dishes.

Riesling

Riesling is a beautifully refreshing fragrant white wine native to Germany’s Rhine River farming regions. Riesling has a flavour element of apples, apricots, peaches, and pears, as well as a high level of acidity. It is one of the few wines that has its own distinctive bottle form, which is a tall, slim glass that is very easy to identify on the shelf. All of these are some of the top reasons to buy riesling wine.

With little to no oak influence, a reluctance to mix with other grape types, and no malolactic fermentation interfering with the grape’s character, the grape is allowed to shine. Combine these taste elements with the lighter-bodied character, the need to be refrigerated before serving, and the frequent touch of residual sugar, and you’ve got a winning combination. It truly is an energizing wine that promises to be both bright and fresh from start to end.