It may seem overwhelming when it comes to picking the perfect white wine, there are so many options! Here’s how to choose a white wine. Cheers!
How To Choose The Perfect White Wine
Choosing the perfect white wine is fairly simple if you are merely choosing a wine that suits your taste. How to go about choosing the one that is perfect for you depends on your level of wine knowledge and what your needs are in a glass of white wine. Of course, if the bottle you seek is to be the one that is perfect for a specific activity or special event, your search will require considerably more effort supported by a little research.
If, for instance, you are a social drinker, you will more than likely want to choose a palate friendly white wine that is pleasant on its own without the need for cheese, fruit, or other food accompaniment for its enjoyment. On the other hand, if you are a person who mostly drinks wine with dinner, you will want a versatile white wine that can accompany many different types of foods.
There is an unbelievable amount of white wine grape varietals in existence. Most people, even if they don’t drink, are aware of the basic white wines that are generally found on restaurant menus such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Vinho Verde, while avid wine enthusiasts are familiar with the less widely known whites such as Viognier and Verdelho.
Tasting Notes Of Popular White Wines
Chardonnay is the most popular white variety and is commonly aged in oak. Chardonnay wines can be crisp or buttery and dry or somewhat sweet. When selecting the perfect Chardonnay, look at the description of the wine and select the one that has the desired characteristics. As an example, a dry and creamy Chardonnay will be smooth but not sweet.
Chenin Blanc wines are typically highly acidic and, depending on where the grapes are grown, they can be anywhere from bland to full-bodied and fruity.
Gweurztraminer wines tend to be on the sweet side and have aromas of florals and spice.
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio wines can come in a variety of styles ranging anywhere from dry to sweet and spicy, sometimes with a hint of honey.
Riesling wines tend to be low in alcohol content with noticeable acidity. Most are sweet, but they can also be dry.
Sauvignon Blanc wines are almost always crisp and tangy and are usually consumed young.
Viognier wines are commonly known for their floral aromas and are predominantly dry white wines.
Common White Wine Terminology
Here are a few that are commonly used with reference to white wine.
Crisp – This means the wine has a pronounced but pleasing tartness or acidity. It refers to a fresh, young wine with good acidity.
Creamy or Buttery – This is the opposite of crisp and refers to the wine having a rich, smooth texture.
Dry – This is the term used to refer to wine with little or no sweetness.
Fruity – This refers to the body and richness of a wine made from good, ripe grapes. It means the wine has fruit flavors, which are usually included in the description.
Oaky – This refers to wine aged in oak that has taken on a bit of the barrel’s taste and smell. Oaky wines often have a hint of vanilla.
Peppery – This term is used to refer to spicy wines such as Gewurztraminer.
Round – This term describes wines that have smooth flavors and textures and are well balanced.
White wines can be offered in sweet or dry styles, oaked or unoaked, and either sparkling or still. The first step in choosing the perfect white wine is to learn just what wines there are in existence for you to choose from. The internet offers a vast number of resources for reading about white wine varietals. Once you have spent some time learning about the different kinds of white wines and their flavor profiles, it is time to start tasting.
Wine tasting is the best way to develop one’s palate and learn about individual wines. There are many venues from wine specialty stores and supermarkets to restaurants and wine bars where you can taste wine on a regular basis either for free or at a very small cost. Anyone fortunate enough to live near the wine country, such as Napa Valley, Sonoma or even Northern Michigan, can also visit the tasting rooms at their local wineries.
Some wine venues offer flights of (usually) three wines that are in some way similar to each other that you can sample side by side. Sampling wines in a lateral tasting such as the same grape varietal produced in three (or more) different regions is a good way to compare wines as the same grape grown in different locales at different altitudes in different soils produces different wines.
Choosing the perfect white wine will come down to your own personal taste preferences. The information from the label on a particular bottle of wine can sometimes be misleading, particularly when describing the wine as sweet or dry as these are relative terms that mean something different to different people. That information can also be of little help if one of the flavor notes is a fruit you have never tasted or even heard of.
No matter how highly recommended a wine is or how many points a bottle has been awarded, the best way to choose the perfect white wine for you is simply to let your taste buds decide. Just because Robert Parker or the staff at Wine Enthusiast found something to be liquid ecstasy in a glass, it doesn’t mean you will automatically agree.
Read about varietals, make a list of the ones that look interesting to you, and then set out to try as many different versions of each as you can. Trying wine with and without food will yield different results, so it is a good idea to try with a least a bit of cheese whenever you can.