White Wines, How Are They Different

Posted on Friday, Aug 27 2010 - 12:00 am

There are lots of white wines out there, but how different are they?  And how do you know what to buy?  Even if you don't know a lot about wine, you usually know what you like.

There are four basic types of white wines: clean and crisp-dry white wines, medium-bodied creamier whites, rich, full-bodied white wines and fruity and fragrant whites.

Some whites are fresh and dry-as-a-bone, perfect for summer evenings and pair wonderfully with all kinds of seafood.  These wines are not complex and when enjoyed alone are often slightly boring.  It's when you pair them with food that they become ideal.  Their neutral flavors don't upset other ingredients and even help cut through fattier dishes.  Even your Friday night spicy Chinese takeout isn't out of bounds with a clean, crisp white.  Any other wine would be lost with the all aromatic spices.  Chilling wine down can often lead to loss of character, but not with these, as they are not overly powerful in flavor.

Some of my favorite clean, crisp whites: Vinho Verde, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Soave, Vermentino, Malvasia and unoaked Chardonnay.

As far as medium-bodied whites, these wines are slightly aromatic and a bit more lively, almost tangy.  They pack a punch, but only very slightly.

Medium-bodied whites I enjoy: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chablis, new world Pinot Gris and some Chardonnay.

And then comes the full-bodied, rich and succulent white wines.  They are creamy and soft but with a dry backbone.  Think barrel-aged, big and lavishly oaked for these wines.

Chardonnay from Burgundy is really the blueprint for the many "big" Chardonnay wines available today.  Semillon is also a lush and honeyed full-body wine as well as Marsanne, Rousanne and Gruner Veltliner.

As far as the fragrant and fruity whites, they are not for everyone.  However, when correctly chosen they make the perfect match to many dishes, even with their overly aromatic bouquets.

Gewurztraminer is one of my favorites, along with Riesling, Viognier, Albarino and Torrontes.  All have a unique aromatic personality.

Give something new a try, you might discover one you really like.


08/27/2010 10:47 / Megan said:
Thanks for such an informative post! I'm a wine "newbie" and really appreciate the time you are taking to help educate people about wine. Some friends and I are going wine tasting and I've already referred them to your "How to Taste Wine" post. Thanks again!

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