White Wine

White wine is made mainly from white grape varieties, but can also be made from many red-skinned varieties too. The only difference when extracting juice from a red variety - to make white wine - is that the grapes are pressed and the skins removed immediately to avoid any color extraction.

Making white wine is more straight forward than making red, in that fewer processes are required throughout the whole of the winemaking period. Different varieties have very different natural flavors, so all wines will have their own unique characteristics depending on how the winemaker has made them.

White wine is nearly often high in acidity, but low in tannin, and generally having a fruity taste with a smooth to crisp mouthfeel. Due to the lack of a natural preservative, white wine tends to have a shorter life, and is best consumed only up to two years after production - but this is not always the case..

Fermenting in oak barrels will benefit, say a big, fat Chardonnay, and so producing a weighty wine with vanilla nuances. However, most white wines tend to produce more subtle, crisp and delicate flavors, like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewütztraminer, which are made ensuring the retention of the slightly higher acidity and youthful character.

The Complexities of White Wine.

It is frequently thought that the flavors of white wine are less complex than those of a red wine. Let me try to dispel this misconception for you.

White wine can be light and refreshing on a hot day for a picnic at the beach, then come the evening time, it can show off several more of its taste and style personalities. From racy and crisp to buttery and creamy, lightweight to full-bodied, vin blanc has it all.

There are 3 white wine star varieties, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a host of other fabulous ones, (see table below). These three are all very different in the styles of wine they produce.

Regions of white wine production

White wine grapes are grown in many regions of the world. In Europe, France, Germany and Italy are the major producers with Austria and even the UK being recognized for their quality of production, especially for sparkling wines.

New World producers, such as Australia, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa have all become well known for the quality of their white wines

In the United States, white wine grapes are grown predominantly in California, with smaller plantings in New York, Oregon and Washington. White wine grapes are also grown in many countries of eastern Europe, India and China.

The ideal situation for growing white grapes is in cooler areas at altitude, this is often termed 'cool climate winegrowing'. In these cooler conditions, the grapes will ripen more slowly, which enhances the more delicate flavors contained within white grapes and therefore ensuring good quality acidity as well as adequate natural sugar levels.

Different white grape varieties respond to different conditions, and produce a diverse range of wine styles - even before the winemaker gets involved!

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White wine styles

There are so many styles of wine made from white grapes (and a few black-skinned varieties) ranging from the crisper, higher acid Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs, through the fruity, aromatic Gewurtztraminers and Pinot Grigios to the fuller, sweeter Semillons at the dessert wine end of the scale.

There are many styles to suit many palates, and wines for everyones tastes, so whether you want a delicate style with fish or and spicy, aromatic one with a curry, you're sure to find one to suit.

Guide to wine styles and food matching

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Table of White Wine Styles and Information

Wine Type Notable Wines Wine Regions Wine Style Flavors & Aromas Mouthfeel Acidity


Champagne, Chablis, White Burgundy France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Canada, South Africa A dry white from the Chardonnay grape, which is renowned for producing some of the worlds finest white wines. It is also used in the making of champagne, and often noted for its distinctive buttery character, A well known and popular variety. Tropical fruits, pineapple, mango, apple, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, spice, oak Smooth High
Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive from Alsace France, Italy, Germany, California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Australia, Canada A spicy, aromatic white wine with attractive aromas, Slightly sweeter than Riesling, and can also be served as a dessert wine. Tropical fruits, grapefruit, lychees, peach, spice Very smooth Low to medium
Muscat / Moscato Asti, Tokaji, Muscatel France, Italy, Spain, California, New
York, Oregon, Washington, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile
Muscat grapes produce wines with a distinctive grapey quality, and a fruity, sweet flavor. Important as a blending ingredient, as it adds the impression of fruitiness to a number of wines, like Gewurtztraminer in Alsace and Zinfandel in California. Some dessert wines are produced from this variety, while the majority tend to be fortified wines. Asti Spumante is probably the most popular wine made using Muscat grapes. Peach, pear, citrus Full-bodied, smooth, creamy High
Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris Vendage Tardive from Alsace Northern Italy, Spain, Burgundy France, Argentina, Chile, California, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand A dry white from the Pinot Gris grape, a mutation of the well-known Pinot Noir. taste varies from light and crisp to full and complex, and dependent on the region of production. Vendage Tardive, or "late harvest," wines can also be made from late-picked, very ripe fruit. These dessert wines would have an alcohol content of 13% to 15% abv. Citrus, honeydew melon, peach, apricots, tropical fruits, and spices Bright, smooth, light High
Riesling Alsace Riesling, Mosel Germany, Clare Valley Riesling Australia, Cape Riesling South Africa France,
Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, California, New York, South Africa
Rieslings, traditionally from Germany, tend to span the range from dry to sweet, but the Riesling grape is renowned for its softer, fuller, fruitier wines. Ideal accompaniment to spicy cuisine. Described as the most noble and expressive of all white wine grape varieties. An elegant wine. Peach, citrus, apple, rose, mineral
Light, round Low to Very high
Sauvignon Blanc Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume France, Marlborough New Zealand France, California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa A dry white wine from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, characterized by its aroma and its refreshingly fruity acidity. Sauvignon Blanc grapes are often blended with Semillon grapes to add valuable acidity and structure. Apples,, grass, herbs, gooseberry, white asparagus Crisp High
Semillon Sauternes & Barsac France, Hunter Valley & Barossa Valley Australia France, Australia, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, California, Washington, A dual purpose wine where it is used to produce the famous sweet wines of France, and some of the greatest dry white wines of Australia. It is often blended with a Sauvignon Blanc, a wine with very opposite flavor--for a more rounded, balanced taste; also used in fine dessert wines Apricot, peach, nectarine, mango, citrus, nut and honey Smooth Medium
Viognier   France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, California, Oregon An aromatic and full-bodied grape variety, Viognier is known for producing white wines with strong stone-fruit flavors. Low in acidity, winemakers tend to make a sticky, late harvest sweeter style. Apricot, ripe peach,floral fruits, lavender, spice Smooth Low