White wines are a delightful and refreshing beverage offering various flavours and textures. Unlike red wines, white wines are made by fermenting the juice of grapes without their skins, resulting in a lighter and fruitier taste. The sheer diversity of white wines can make it a daunting task to select the perfect one that suits your palate. From crisp and clean Sauvignon Blanc to the full-bodied Chardonnay, white wines come in many varieties and can be enjoyed with an array of cuisines or on their own. This article aims to unravel the fascinating world of white wines, exploring their popular varietals and imparting tips on choosing the right white wine for any occasion. Whether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or a budding enthusiast, join us to discover the magic of white wines.
White wine is made from white grapes, which are green or yellow in colour, such as the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Some white wine is also made from red or black grapes with their skins removed, provided the obtained wort is not stained. It is typically light to medium-bodied, with flavours ranging from crisp and refreshing to rich and aromatic full-bodied, depending on the grape variety, region and winemaking techniques. They range in flavour from crisp and acidic to sweet and fruity. The colour also varies, from clear to yellow or gold.
Pairing white wines
People usually drink cold white wine with lighter meals like seafood, salads, and chicken. It’s been popular for a long time and can be enjoyed on its own or with many types of food.
Chardonnay is a full-bodied and oaky wine that pairs well with poultry and seafood, while Sauvignon Blanc is a light and crisp wine that pairs well with salads and seafood. Pinot Grigio/Gris is a refreshing, light-bodied wine famous for its light, crisp texture and green apple, pear, and white peach notes. It pairs well with light dishes like pasta and salads. Riesling is a sweet and fruity wine that pairs well with spicy foods, and Moscato is a sweet and bubbly wine that pairs well with desserts. Regardless of the type, white wines make an excellent pairing for a variety of dishes and are perfect for warm weather or light meals.
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White wines should be served slightly chilled but not too cold. The ideal serving temperature for white wine is typically between 7 to 13 ºC (45 to 55 ºF ). Serving white wine at this temperature allows its flavours and aromas to be fully expressed.
They tend to be crisp and acidic, so they can lose flavour and become flat if chilled too much. Serving a white wine too cold would mask its flavours and aromas, while serving it too warm would make it taste heavy or overly alcoholic and even dull. White wines that are too warm can become extremely aromatic and lose their balance.
When serving, chill the wine in the refrigerator for a few hours before opening it. This will give it the perfect balance of acidity and flavour.
If you need to chill the wine quickly, place it in an ice bucket with ice and water for around 20 minutes.
If you accidentally over-chill the wine, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to warm up slightly. It’s important to keep in mind that white wines will warm up quickly once they’re out of the refrigerator.
Always remember that the temperature of a wine can significantly influence how it tastes, smells, and feels on the palate.
Note that this temperature recommendation is general guidelines and has specific variations.
Light-bodied white wine
Light-bodied white wines have a relatively low viscosity and alcohol content, ranging from 9-12% ABV, making them easy to drink and refreshing. They are typically characterized by their delicate, refreshing nature, crisp acidity and bright, fruity flavours, making them a popular choice for those who prefer a lighter and more subtle taste. They are typically served chilled and are perfect for summertime sipping or pairing with lighter dishes. Some popular light-bodied white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. These wines offer a range of flavours, from crisp and citrusy to floral and aromatic. When selecting a light-bodied white wine, it’s important to consider the occasion and the food you plan to pair it with. Whether you’re looking for a wine to enjoy with seafood, salads, or to sip on a hot day, there’s sure to be a light-bodied white wine perfect for your taste and needs.
Light-bodied white wines should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Exposure to light and heat can cause the wine to age prematurely and lose its flavour. They should be stored on their sides to keep the cork moist and prevent it from drying out and letting air into the bottle. Unlike red wines, white wines do not typically improve with age, so storing them for long periods is unnecessary. Instead, they are best enjoyed within 1-2 years of their vintage date. Therefore, it is important to check the expiration dates on the label and consume the wine within that time frame. Overall, storing light-bodied white wines is relatively easy and straightforward. Still, it is essential to keep them away from factors that can degrade their quality, such as light, heat, and air.
Storing opened bottle
After opening a bottle of light-bodied white wine, it’s crucial to store it correctly to maintain its flavour and aroma. The best way to store opened white wine is to reseal the bottle tightly with a cork or screw cap and refrigerate it immediately. This will prevent any air from entering the bottle and oxidizing the wine. Next, store the bottle in the refrigerator. The cool temperature will slow down the oxidation process and help preserve the flavours of the wine. Keeping the bottle upright rather than lying down is also a good idea.
However, remember that white wine should not be stored in the refrigerator for too long as it can start to lose its flavour. An opened bottle of light-bodied white wine can last up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator, depending on the oxidation rate, the type of grape, and the storage conditions. However, it’s essential to note that the wine’s quality will begin to deteriorate after a day or two. Therefore, consuming the wine within three days of opening is best, or it may lose its freshness and flavour.
The legendary light-bodied white wines everyone should know
When it comes to light-bodied white wines, there are a few standout varieties that everyone should know. Vinho Verde from Portugal is a crisp, refreshing wine with citrus and green apple notes that pairs well with seafood and salads. Riesling, a German classic, one of the most versatile wines, can range from dry to sweet, boasting stone fruit and honey flavours. It is famous for its subtle floral notes, bright acidity, and sweet, off-dry finish. Pinot Grigio from Italy is a crowd-pleaser with light citrus and pear flavours perfect for sipping on a sunny day. Grüner Veltliner from Austria is known for its peppery and mineral notes, making it an excellent match for spicy dishes. Finally, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a zesty, herbaceous wine with tropical fruit flavours that pairs well with seafood, salads and sushi. Whether you prefer your whites with a bit of sweetness or a lot of acidity, these legendary varieties are sure to impress.
Medium-bodied white wine
Medium-bodied white wine is a type of wine that is neither too light nor too full-bodied. Typically, medium-bodied white wines range from dry to slightly sweet. These wines have a moderate alcohol content, between 11% and 13.5%. They are refreshing and easy to drink, with a crisp, clean finish. It has a balance of acidity and fruitiness, making it a versatile wine to pair with different types of food. Medium-bodied white wines are best served chilled and pair well with seafood, chicken and pork dishes, salads, and pasta with cream sauces. They are also an excellent choice for sipping on their own for outdoor events and social gatherings. Medium-bodied whites are often more affordable than full-bodied whites, making them a perfect option for any budget.
Medium-bodied white wines are versatile and range from crisp and refreshing to rich and creamy. When storing these wines, it is essential to remember their unique characteristics.
Firstly, medium-bodied white wines should be stored at temperatures between 7-13°C/45-55°F. This can be achieved through a wine cooler, a basement or a specifically designed cellar.
In addition, these wines should be kept away from direct sunlight, as UV light can cause premature aging and spoiling. A dark, cool, humid place is ideal for storing medium-bodied white wines.
When storing these wines for longer than a few months, they should also be kept on their side to keep the cork moist and prevent it from becoming dry or cracking, which can lead to spoilage.
Following these simple tips, you can keep your medium-bodied white wines tasting their best for years.
Storing opened bottle
When storing opened bottles of medium-bodied white wines, it is essential to remember that oxidation will occur over time. It depends on how long you want to keep it. If you’re going to drink the wine within a day or two, you can recork it and keep it in the fridge. Refrigerating slows down the oxidation process, which can affect the taste of the wine. However, suppose you want to keep the wine for a longer time. In that case, you should transfer it to a smaller container, such as a half-bottle or a filled-to-the-top wine preserver, to minimize the amount of air in contact with the wine. You may also use a vacuum sealer to remove the air in the bottle before recorking it and keeping it in the fridge, which helps preserve the wine for a longer time. Store the container upright in the refrigerator and consume it within a week for the best taste. If the wine is not consumed within this time frame, it may start to turn or become sour.
The legendary medium-bodied white wines everyone should know
Medium-bodied white wines are known for their versatility, balance and ability to pair well with a wide variety of dishes. Chenin Blanc, also known as Vouvray, is a medium-bodied white wine from the Loire Valley in France. This dry white wine has a refreshing acidity, apple, pear, and honey flavours, and a medium body that pairs well with a wide range of foods. Chenin Blanc pairs well with seafood, chicken dishes, and salads. Sémillon is another medium-bodied white wine that originated in Bordeaux, France. It is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make the famous white Bordeaux blend. Sémillon has a rich, full-bodied texture with lemon, fig, and honey flavours. It is known for its ability to age well and develop complex flavours over time. Sémillon pairs well with seafood, roasted chicken, and creamy sauces. These two legendary medium-bodied whites are a must-try for any wine enthusiast.
Full-bodied white wine
Full-bodied white wines are great for red wine lovers because of their rich, smooth taste, subtle creamy notes and weighty mouthfeel. They have a higher alcohol content, generally 13.5% or more.
These wines are usually made from grapes well-suited for warmer climates, producing a lusher, riper flavour. Examples include Chardonnay, Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne. These wines are often aged in oak barrels, adding complexity and flavour depth. So, look up the aging program to ensure the wine has had some barrel aging (usually from 6–12 months.)
When pairing full-bodied white wines with food, they pair well with creamy and hearty dishes like fish and chips, lobster, grilled meats and creamy sauces. They also work well with strong, robust, pungent cheeses and dishes with herbs and spices.
Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier are typically aged in oak barrels, giving them rich, complex flavour. To store these wines, it is best to lay them on their side in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature between 7-13°C/45-55°F. Also, keep the wine away from heat sources, direct sunlight or fluorescent lighting, as they can damage the flavour of the wine.
Ideally, the humidity should be between 50-80%. If the humidity is too low, the cork can dry out, allowing air into the bottle and oxidizing the wine. If the humidity is too high, mould and mildew can form on the labels and the cork.
It is important to avoid storing full-bodied white wines in an area with strong odours as they can absorb those odours and negatively affect the taste of the wine.
The bottle should be stored on its side. This will also ensure the wine is in contact with the cork to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out and letting air into the bottle.
If you plan to age the wine for an extended period, consider investing in a wine cellar or cooler with temperature and humidity controls to ensure the wine is kept in the best possible conditions. Once the bottle is opened, it should be consumed within 3-4 days and stored in a refrigerator.
Storing opened bottle
Storing an opened bottle of full-bodied white wine can be challenging, as the wine can quickly lose its flavour and aroma. It can be done for up to 3–4 days. To do this:
- Pour the leftover wine into a smaller bottle to reduce the amount of air exposure and store it in the refrigerator. The cooler temperature will slow the oxidation process and keep the flavour of the wine intact.
- Use an airtight container, as exposure to oxygen will quickly turn your wine into vinegar. You should also cork the bottle tightly or seal it with a wine stopper and lay it on its side, so the cork doesn’t dry out.
- Always avoid storing the wine in direct sunlight or a warm environment, as this can quickly ruin the taste and quality of the wine.
- When you are ready to drink the wine again, remove it 30 minutes before serving to let it reach the ideal temperature of 10-15°C/50-60°F.
The legendary full-bodied white wines everyone should know
Full-bodied white wines are rich in texture, weighty and usually have a higher alcohol content. These wines can stand up to bold flavours and pair perfectly with hearty dishes. Gewürtztraminer is a grape variety that produces highly aromatic, spicy, floral wines. These wines can range from dry to sweet and pair well with spicy foods. Marsanne is a white grape variety that originates from France’s Rhône Valley. It produces full-bodied wines that are rich and complex, with flavours of honey and nuts. These wines can age very well. Roussanne is a lesser-known white grape variety from the Rhône Valley. It produces full-bodied wines with peach, apricot, pear, hazelnut and honey flavours. These wines also have an excellent aging potential. Viognier is a white grape variety that is commonly found in the Rhône Valley and produces wines with a floral and fruity aroma. These wines are also full-bodied with peach, apricot, and honeysuckle flavours. Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. This wine is famous for its creamy texture, orchard fruit flavours and notes of oak. It produces a range of styles from crisp and lean to full-bodied and oaky. Its flavours can vary from citrus and tropical fruits to butter and vanilla, depending on where it is grown and how it is made. These are just a few examples of legendary full-bodied white wines to begin exploring.
The classic wine categories include sparkling, white (light, medium and full-bodied), rosé, red (light, medium and full-bodied) and dessert wine.
Sparkling wine is known for its effervescence, with carbon dioxide bubbles naturally forming during fermentation. White (light, medium and full-bodied) wine is usually produced from lighter-coloured grapes with a lighter body and a more delicate flavour. Rosé wine is a pink-coloured wine made from red grapes with a refreshing taste and versatile food pairings. Red (light, medium and full-bodied) wine is typically made from dark-coloured grapes, giving it a deeper colour and bold flavour profile. Dessert wine is a type of wine that is sweet and often served after a meal or paired with desserts.
These classic wine categories are the foundation of the wine industry and the starting point for exploring the many variations and complexities within each category.
This article is part of “How to plan an unforgettable wine & cheese party”
These tips are from my own experience;
I’m neither a party organizer, a sommelier, nor a turophile (a cheese connoisseur).
I just love cheese, wine and spending time with family and friends.
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