Six white wines to try
Some people love white wine, others swear they only drink red. But you shouldn’t overlook a nice glass of white wine without first diving in to see what you like and don’t like, avoiding sweeping judgments or assumptions along the way. This might surprise you, but there is a plethora of white wine styles out there, and they go fantastically well with all types of food, even steak. The trick to figuring out what you like, though, is trying a sampling of some of the more popular styles which will help you be more informed about how to tell your server or wine shop professional what you enjoy, so they can help point you in the right direction as you drink increasingly more bottles of white in the future.
These are the six wine varieties and styles that will give you a great introduction to the world of white wine.
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world, so it’s a good variety with which to start on your white wine journey. But Chardonnay has some haters, especially those who aren’t very fond of the oaked version, but try it, because you might love it. Those who are fond of oaked Chardonnay love the wine’s rich vanilla flavours and the luscious, rich and often rounder mouthfeel the wood aging can often provide. It’s this backbone that allows Chardonnay to even stand up to a steak – if you dare. If you find you’re fond of this style you will probably be a fan of other white wines that see oak, including some white Bordeaux as well Gruner Veltliner and Viognier. If you’re not a fan, it’s time to try unoaked Chardonnay instead.
These are wines that are either aged in stainless steel, or sometimes placed for a short time in neutral oak – meaning the oak barrel has been used so many times prior that it won’t impart its rich vanilla flavour in the wine. Unoaked Chardonnay – popularized by Chablis in Burgundy – has none of those buttery vanilla flavours you might find displeasing. Instead it’s just delicious green apple, lemon and maybe even a bit of pineapple.
Summer in a glass, this is a wine that was born in France, but really saw its rise come when it found a new home in New Zealand. Chances are most people you know who love Sauvignon Blanc love the New Zealand version: it smells of fresh cut grass with a nice zippy acidity that is as refreshing as a glass of lemonade. But if you’re looking for a subtler wine, that isn’t as aggressive both in terms of the acidity and the grassy notes, head to Sancerre for the most refined version of the wine.
The most popular white wine of Italy, Pinot Grigio has refreshing flavours of lime, lemon and green apple. Often very dry – not sweet – the wine is great with seafood.
Riesling – Dry:
Riesling is often thought of as very sweet, but in fact, some of the top Riesling in the world from Germany and Alsace are bone dry. To ensure you have a dry Riesling, grab a bottle from Austria – the driest of all regions – the Alsace region of France, or find one labelled Trocken if it’s German. These wines have the lemon, lime, pineapple, and apricot flavours Riesling lovers adore, but don’t have the cloying sweetness.
Riesling – Sweet:
Sweet Riesling are also made in Germany, and will be labelled as “Spatlese” or “Auslese”