If you’re not ordinarily a wine drinker, a walk down your local supermarket’s wine aisle can be quite overwhelming! If you’ve decided to dip your toe into the wine-drinking experience, you might be left wondering – what does white wine taste like?
Every wine aficionado will tell you it’s a good idea to start your wine-drinking experience with a good quality white. This is mostly because white wines are easier on the palate and it’s a gentle way to ease into your wine journey. Does this mean that white wines aren’t as bitter as some red wines?
While serious wine connoisseurs might not take you too seriously if your favorite drink is chilled white wine, it’s a good place to start and with their delectable tastes, it’s definitely worth adding to your collection. Today’s article will give you an idea of what you can expect from your first sip of white wine.
What’s the Best Way to Describe White Wine?
Author James Joyce once referred to white wine as tasting like electricity. There’s something quite appealing about a chilled glass of white wine on a hot summer’s day. It simply “looks” light and crispy. And whether you’re a wine drinker or not, you might have found yourself wondering if it’s as tasty as it looks.
What Exactly is White Wine?
White wine is generally made from white (actually green, for the newbies) grapes. While it’s also fermented like red wine, white wine is made without grape skin contact. The lack of skin contact creates a lighter taste and produces a yellow-gold, yellow-green or clear color.
White wine is also well known for its food-friendly properties. The crispy tanginess of white wine is a good way to balance the fat and salty flavors in many different dishes. In food circles, the general rule of thumb is to add white wines to white meat or pasta dishes. This pairing will not only enhance the white wine flavor but the dish as well!
Is White Wine Sweet or Bitter?
In general, white wines aren’t bitter. The tannins in wine come primarily from the grape skin contact during the fermentation process. This extensive skin contact creates the deep red color associated with red wines.
White wines don’t undergo that much skin contact since the pulp of the grape is used, rather than crushing the entire grape. This means there isn’t that all too familiar bitter, sharp taste often associated with red wine. White wine therefore can be:
- Dry tasting
What is Meant by a Dry White Wine?
Have you ever had a conversation with a wine drinker and heard them refer to their drink as a “dry white”? If you’ve never had a glass of white wine, the term dry white doesn’t tell you much, does it? So, what exactly is a dry white wine and how does it taste?
When grape pulp is fermented, artificial yeast converts sugars from the grape mixture into alcohol. When the bulk of the sugar is converted, and the remaining sugar is less than 1% of the wine’s volume the wine is considered dry. This means there is about 4g of sugar per liter. Quite simply, dry wine isn’t sweet.
Due to their lack of excessive sugar, dry whites are often considered healthier than sweet wines. They’re however not bitter because they still have the natural sweetness from the grapes.
Is White Wine Healthier than Red Wine?
Another good reason to spoil yourself with a glass or two of quality white wine is that it’s healthy. In general, white wine is known to improve heart health which in turn prevents heart disease. While red wine contains more antioxidants, the good news is, you can enjoy similar benefits from a white wine.
Popular White Wine Flavors
While white wines might not be very popular in some wine enthusiasts’ circles, you can still look forward to being spoilt for choice if you prefer a crispy white. As with red wine, there is an extensive and varied flavor list of different white options.
This bold dry wine is regarded as the most popular white wine in the world. And, for good reason! Its tastes and flavor notes vary depending on the region the grapes are grown in. For the most part, you can expect a creamy, succulent flavor of various citrus and stone fruits. The oak barrels used during fermentation add a buttery, oak taste. Its clean, crisp flavor makes it ideal for food pairing.
Another popular dry white is this old favorite made in Burgundy, France. Despite being made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, this blend doesn’t taste anything like the oaky taste of a traditional Chardonnay. Chablis has a pleasant mineral, salty taste.
This German wine, popularly available everywhere, is for serious wine drinkers. It has higher alcohol levels but lower acidity levels. As you open the bottle, prepare to be surrounded by the sweet aroma of roses. Flavors-wise you can easily expect a mixture of orange, pineapple, grapefruit and even pineapple.
Other fruity hints in the flavor include allspice, cinnamon and depending on the vintage, you might even taste a few smoky notes. This white is perfect with cheesy dishes or even roasted vegetables. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “ge-VOORTZ-tra-meener”!
Made from the Pinot gris grape, this wine is a popular people-pleaser with its variety of green apple, lime and lemon tastes. Looking for something with a crisp fruit flavor? Then this is the ideal option. It’s also the perfect wine to take to a dinner party because it pairs so well with a variety of dishes. And when the season changes, remember it’s a popular drink on hot summer afternoons.
A firm favorite among white wine drinkers is a quality Riesling. Its dry, stony and sometimes salty notes provide a complex but flavorful taste. Some Riesling options, like the ones from Germany, offer a hint of spiciness that’s quite refreshing.
Unless a Riesling is specifically marked as dry, you can assume it’s sweet. With its diverse profile, it pairs well with anything from seafood to strong Indian curries. It can even be enjoyed as a dessert wine!
If you’re looking for a sweet dry wine, a Moscato made from Muscat Blanc grapes might be the perfect option for you. With its sweet peach, apricot and citrus profile it can be enjoyed as a dinner or dessert wine. It’s the semi-sparkling options with fragrant floral aromas that make it the perfect dessert wine.
Another popular lunchtime wine is a good, chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Its combination of mineral notes mixed with tropical fruit gives it a clean and fresh taste. The vintage from New Zealand even offers hints of green pepper!
This off-dry white is popular in France where it was first produced and in more recent years, South Africa. Your taste buds can expect spicy floral notes with a twist of pear and sweet melon.
The Best Way to Enjoy White Wine
If you’re trying white wine for the first time, it’s important to note that it’s not supposed to be drunk in gulps as they do in the movies! A chilled glass of white wine should be enjoyed slowly to fully enjoy the flavor. Drink like someone who knows what it’s about, by using these few pointers:
- White wine should usually be chilled, but this is a matter of personal preference.
- Breathe in the aroma before you start drinking.
- Take a small sip, don’t gulp! Remember wine should be savored!
- Experience the taste on your tongue and taste buds. This will help you identify ones you enjoy more than others.
- It’s important to note that not all wines with the same name will taste the same. For instance, a Riesling from France might taste different from a Riesling from your local vineyard. This is due to different climates and aging processes.
- A great way to taste a few different white wines without spending a fortune on options you might not enjoy, is to research the wine tasting schedules of your local wineries. This is the perfect way to learn the varying flavors of different white wines!
Each person’s palate is different so how you taste wine is really a matter of personal preference. For the most part though, white wine is often described as having strong characteristics very similar to lime or lemon juice.
Its fruity additions make it the perfect way to step into the wonderful world of wine! Don’t stick with one choice though, treat your palate to different vintages, brands and flavors. Before you know it, you’ll be a white wine enthusiast with a list of favorites!