Differences between White Wines
Picking the perfect bottle to tantalize your taste buds on a summer’s eve can be tricky. If you haven’t already got a go-to grape or region, then deciding where to start can be baffling.
Should you reach for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio? And, furthermore, which country produces the best – and best-value – white wine? Should you choose an Italian, French or antipodean bottle?
Stick with finder and we’ll guide you through the essential flavors, most popular countries of origin, and the distinct characteristics offered by some of the US’s favorite white wines.
Even if you don’t know the first thing about white wine, chances are you’ve heard of Chardonnay. It’s one of the most popular white wines in the UK. This wine originated in Burgundy, France, but is now created all over the world.
The first thing you’ll notice when you take that initial sip of Chardonnay is its complexity. One bottle can differ quite dramatically in flavor to the next. Chardonnay is an easy crowd-pleaser and is available either ‘oaked’ or ‘unoaked’, depending on your flavor preference.
Oaked Chardonnay varieties offer subtleties of vanilla, crème brûlée and even toast, while unoaked bottles are fruitier and generally medium-high in acidity, and will present a dash of zing that’s sure to excite your palate.
Chenin Blanc offers a refreshing accompaniment to an array of dishes from Chinese sweet-and-sour to a roast chicken dinner. The major wine regions producing this white are scattered across South Africa, France, the USA, and Argentina.
Like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc is available in oak-aged and unoaked variations and the effects are similar. Oak-aged bottles will offer essences of butterscotch, nutmeg, marzipan, and brioche, whereas unoaked varieties call on fruity fans of quince, pear, passion fruit, lime, and other equally tempting sweet, yet refreshing treats.
There are several acidities on the market ranging from medium-high to high.
If you’re looking for a versatile wine, Pinot Blanc is a great option. The best grapes are thought to originate from Europe, specifically Alsace (northeastern France), the Alto Adige wine region of Italy, and in areas of both Germany and Austria.
Pinot Blanc is a grape that achieves a medium to full-bodied wine with a good level of acidity. Like Chenin Blanc and, of course, Chardonnay, it responds well to the process of oaking. Pinot Blanc can present different characters that include hints of apple and almond, and occasionally feature a smoky edge.
If you like a tartier finish to your pallet, this is one to try.
Pinot Grigio is growing rapidly in popularity throughout the US, and when you look at the profile of this white, it’s not hard to see why. This wine is light, easy to drink, simple and subtle in flavor, and yet utterly refreshing. If you’re shopping for a bottle, it’s recommended to look out for one that originated in Northern Italy.
The most common characteristics of Pinot Grigio are a light, crisp and dry finish. Pair the wine’s characteristics with complementing aromas of lemon, green apple, and essence of blossoms and you’ll be amazed by its tasty simplicity.
Gruner Veltliner is the staple wine grape of Austria. The end result of the creation process is two distinctly different variations on flavor. Both offer aromas of citrus, offset by fruit and hints of herbs, and the unusual trademark dash of white pepper.
If you’re looking for a lighter, fresher wine that spotlights the fundamental citrus character choose a bottle originating from Weinviertel.
If you choose a bottle from the Wachau, Kremstal or Kamptal regions, the overall experience will be spicier, heavier and offer more complexity. Wines originating in these regions offer plenty of texture with characteristics comparable to honey, or marmalade.
Sauvignon Blanc is another crowd-pleaser. It is one of the oldest and most highly rated white wine grapes the globe has to offer. The very best bottles originate in the French Loire Valley and Bordeaux, as well as Marlborough, New Zealand.
Sauvignon Blanc differs from the majority of white wines. The flavors produced are distinctly green. If you opt for a Sauvignon Blanc that originates from a cooler climate, you will notice strong sensations of limes and green apples. Choosing a Sauvignon Blanc made in warmer climates will result in riper grapes that produce fruity flavors of peaches and passionfruit.
The underlying effect of a great Sauvignon Blanc will take you on a journey through gooseberries and grass, finishing fresh and flavorsome with jalapenos and peppers.
Viognier is a wine grape that is now grown widely across the globe. Bottles originate in European countries including France, Italy, and Spain, as well as further afield in Chile, Argentina, Australia, and Japan.
The Viognier grapes offer a rich texture and an aromatic experience. Striking fruit flavors are characteristic of this style of wine, and it you have a good nose, you should be able to pinpoint aromas of chamomile, lavender, and thyme.
If you’re looking for something a little different, give Riesling a try. This white originates in Germany and is unlike anything else on the white wine market.
Riesling is an extremely aromatic white grape that gives sensations of pears, crisp apples, and peaches. If you’re a wine enthusiast with a keen palate, you may pick up on hints of honeycomb in there too.
Whilst most people think of Riesling as a sweet wine, the truth is you’ll find it variations of sweetness and you can buy according to your personal taste.
If you haven’t got around to sampling a bottle of Moscato yet, there’s no time like the present. This sweet Italian wine is positively brimming with flavor.
Strong, sweet fruit flavors dominate the experience. You’ll notice a fusion of peaches, lemons, oranges, apricots, and nectarines holding their place on the frontline. And yet, in the background, hints of vanilla, caramel, and jasmine await to make this a flavor that keeps on giving.
Moscato is a medium-acidity wine that is commonly quite sweet in flavor.
Sémillon is a considerably underrated white wine. Sweet varieties are commonly produced in France. And yet some of Australia’s most prestigious dry whites are Sémillon also.
When Sémillon grapes are used to create sweet wine, an array of flavors present, including stone fruits such as apricots, peaches, and mangoes.
To create a dry Sémillon wine, a special set of controlled conditions are essential to achieve quality. In the Hunter Valley situated slightly north of Sydney, the conditions are said to be almost perfect for producing unoaked, dry Sémillon.
Marsanne is a variety of white wine grape originally from Rhône Valley. This grape can also be found in the region of Savoie and in Switzerland.
The Marsanne grape is known for its depth and tempting textures. A delicious aroma featuring staples of roasted nuts, pears, and honeydew melon, with just a hint of spice and blossoms is one to savor and enjoy. Aged Marsanne wines enhance in complexity resulting in rich flavors and a silky, enticingly exotic texture.
Marsanne grapes are used in the production of both dry and sweet whites and pair perfectly with seafood.
The very best Gewurztraminer wine comes from Alsace where the growing conditions are perfect for cultivation.
This white assaults the senses, with complex aromas of tropical fruits, pepper, and sensuous spices. What you’re left with is a slightly intriguing bitter taste that is, whilst odd, quite enjoyable.
Gewurztraminer wines are usually dry, and yet feature a palate-cleansing fruit-filled flavor making it the perfect wine to serve with a spicy meal, or cheese board offering.