Sometimes it seems that white wine is a bit misunderstood. Red wines seem to collect all the accolades and are the go-to bottles when wine is purchased. However, white wines offer many important differences that can only enhance one’s wine experience. Perhaps people believe that white wine is only suitable to drink at lunch? Or that it can only be paired with chicken or fish? Or that it just simply isn’t hearty enough to stand up to its red cousins? Those perceptions couldn’t be more wrong. Read on to discover more about the different varieties of white wines, surprising ways they can enhance any meal, and how you might just head straight to the white section on your next visit to your wine merchant.
Chardonnay: Chardonnay might be the most well-known of the white varieties and is certainly one of the most popular. Chardonnay grapes make up the bulk of the white grapes grown in the Burgundy region of France. It has also taken hold in the Russian River area of California. Chardonnay offers a rich and luscious tasting experience, with fruity aromas and a crisp feel. When aged in oak barrels, the chardonnay takes on a deeper, richer flavor that is often described as round and buttery. Unaged chardonnays are perfectly suited to accompany light meals or appetizers, especially a cheese course. The rich, oaky variety is bold enough to stand alongside a perfectly roasted pork loin, a veal dish, or any dish featuring a rich sauce.
Sauvignon Blanc: While chardonnay is the white grape of the Burgundy region, sauvignon blanc is the white grape of the Bordeaux region. Mostly known as a light, dry and crisp wine, if aged in oak, it can take on a creamier and smooth texture. In its unaged form, sauvignon blanc is a perfect wine to stand alone, but it is also a great accompaniment to salads and grilled vegetables, which makes it an unrivalled wine to serve with vegetarian meals. In addition to France, sauvignon blanc proliferates in New Zealand, California and South Africa. In fact, many wine experts believe that today’s best sauvignon blancs are produced exclusively in New Zealand.
Pinot Grigio: Also known as pinot gris, this crisp, dry wine is one of the world’s best sellers. The pinot grigio grape is typically grown in Northern Italy, and presents light, fruity notes and a mineral essence, at times. While pinot grigio and pinot gris are the same grape, the resulting wine is different according to the growing region. Oregon and California pinot gris often has a richer, bolder aroma and subtly different flavors that can hint at almond and apricot. Pinot grigio pairs well with salads and appetizers but also accompanies pork, chicken, and fish dishes perfectly. Additionally, it can be a very affordable wine, which makes it accessible to consumers who prefer not to break the bank on their wine.
Riesling: Many people often associate the name riesling with a sweeter wine, but that is not always the case. It’s true that some rieslings are quite sweet, some varieties are crisp and dry and offer notes of fruit that avoid being cloying. Grown primarily in the Alsace region of Germany, rieslings are rarely stored in oak, but some of varieties are aged for several years, producing a complex, high end wine. Most rieslings, however, are produced for everyday drinking. Rieslings are perfect for many fish, chicken or pork dishes, but they shine when paired with spicy foods such as Thai, Chinese or Indian cuisines.