White Wine Grapes, What To Look For

White Wine Grapes

Riesling

(Rees-ling)

Food-wine pairing: dry versions go well with fish, chicken and pork dishes.

Districts: the classic German grape of the Rhine and Mosel, riesling grows in all wine districts. Germany’s great Rieslings are usually made slightly sweet, with steely acidity for balance. Riesling from Alsace and the Eastern USA is also excellent, though usually made in a different style, equally aromatic but typically drier (not sweet). California Rieslings are much less successful, usually sweet and lacking in acidity for balance.

Typical taste in varietal wine: Riesling wines are much lighter than Chardonnay wines. The aromas generally include fresh apples. The riesling variety expresses itself very differently depending on the district and the wine making. Rieslings should taste fresh. If they do, then they might also prove tastier and tastier as they age.

Gewürztraminer

(Gah-vurtz-tra-meener)

A very aromatic variety.Food-wine pairing: ideal for sipping and with Asian food, pork and grilled sausages.

Districts: best-known in Alsace, Germany, the USA West Coast, and New York.

Typical taste in varietal wine: fruity flavours with aromas of rose petal, peach, lychee, and allspice. A Gewürztraminer often appears not as refreshing as other kinds of dry whites.

 

Chardonnay

(Shar-doe-nay) Chardonnay was the most popular white grape through the 1990’s. It can be made sparkling or still.Food-wine pairing: it is a good choice for fish and chicken dishes.

Districts: chardonnay makes the principle white wine of Burgundy (France), where it originated. Chardonnay is grown with success in most viticultural areas under a variety of climatic conditions.

Typical taste in varietal wine: often wider-bodied (and more velvety) than other types of dry whites, with rich citrus (lemon, grapefruit) flavours. Fermenting in new oak barrels adds a buttery tone (vanilla, toast, coconut, toffee). Tasting a USD 15 Californian Chardonnay should give citrus fruit flavours, hints of melon, vanilla, some toasty character and some creaminess. Burgundy whites can taste very different.

Sauvignon blanc

(So-vee-nyon Blah)Food-wine pairing: a versatile food wine for seafood, poultry, and salads.

Districts: New Zealand produces some excellent Sauvignon Blancs. Some Australian Sauvignon Blancs, grown in warmer areas, tends to be flat and lack fruit qualities. Of French origin, sauvignon blanc is grown in the Bordeaux district where it is blended with semillon. It is also grown extensively in the upper Loire valley where it is made as a varietal wine.

Typical taste in varietal wine: generally lighter than Chardonnay — Sauvignon blanc normally shows a herbal character suggesting bell pepper or freshly mown grass. The dominating flavours range from sour green fruits of apple, pear and gooseberry through to tropical fruits of melon, mango and blackcurrant. Quality unoaked Sauvignon Blancs will display smokey qualities; they require bright aromas and a strong acid finish; they are best grown in cool climates.

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