Guide to White Wine


In the glass, white wines have a tendency to be just about anything other than a true “white.”  Instead, they emit a spectrum of color that ranges from deep golden yellow to a light straw color with green tints.  The color components that white wine exhibits are derived from the specific blends or grape varietals used in making these wines.  Grape skins and grape juice are used to make white wines.  They come from yellowish, gold or green colored grapes.  Sparkling wine and Champagne are made using white wine grapes.  Sometimes just juice of certain red grapes are used and not the skin.  Frequently, this is used for making Pinot Noir wines

White Wine Varietals

The “Big Eight” white wine varietals include: Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

White wine are sometimes referred to by their Old World or regional names.  For example, a Chablis or white Burgundy is white wine made in Burgundy from Chardonnay grapes exclusively.  The Sauternes is from Bordeaux.  It is a full-bodied, sweet white wine that is made out of Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

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The Best Times To Drink White Wine

White wines can either be full-bodied, medium-bodied or light-bodied.  It depends on the alcohol content and what grapes are used to make the wine.  Chardonnay is representative of a full-bodied wine, Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied white wine that is quite popular, and Rieslings are a typical light-bodied white wine. The alcohol level for a majority of white wines range from 8% to 14%.  German Rieslings are on the light end in terms of alcohol level.  White wines go well with lighter meals such as appetizers, lunch or as an apéritif.  However, a majority of fuller-bodied white wines also can go well with heavier meals with a cream sauce or butter.  The white Sauternes of Bordeaux are excellent wines for handling the palate heft that comes from ultra-rich foie gras.  The acidity of white wines makes them especially food-friendly.  They also have a tendency for being very refreshing, both in terms of taste and style than most of their red wine counterparts, which helps to justify the sales increase during the summer and spring months.  The old “white wine with white meat” rule of thumb in many cases still holds true.  However, there are many exceptions as well as palate preferences that determine what foods to pair with which wines.

White Wine

Glass Choices For White Wine

A different glass style is preferred for white wines as opposed to red wines.  Narrower glasses that have a tapered top are the best.  They allow for a higher aromatic concentration.  White wine that is served too warms allows the aromas to be dominated by alcohol.  On the other hand, white wine that is served to cold veils the nose of the wine.  The optimal serving temperature for white wine ranges from 45 to 50 °F.