Learning About White Wines

By Mark Adams

Mark is the founder of amber crest winery, a professional winemaker, an author and frequent speaker on wine. He teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

Well, let’s get started by talking about some of the characteristics of white wines.

As you journey down the wine road, most people will like whites before they like reds. Some will never like whites and that’s OK.

But if you’re like most people, you will like both white and red and will choose based on what they are eating, their mood or the situation.

To better get a feel for white wines, let’s start out by talking about the color. The difference between white and red wines is if the skins are used in fermentation.

Squeeze any grape and the juice is white or really “clear”.

White wine is fermented only with the juice and the skins are thrown away. With red wines, the skins are used in fermentation and the pigments in the skins are what give red wine its color.

For pink or rose wines like white zinfandel, the skins are left in for just a short bit and then removed, giving the wine its rose (pronounced rose-ay) color.

Then why are some wines almost clear like riesling and some wines like pinot gris almost gold. Three reasons.

1, certain grape varieties are naturally darker than others.

2, the winemakers style may lighten or darken the final wine

3, as a white wine ages, it will turn a little darker.

Next, lets talk about taste of the wine. Lets bring up wine words.

Body – White wines are typically less in body that reds. Because tannins are in the grape skins and most whites are unoaked, white wines feel a lighter on the tongue than reds.

Acidity– White wines usually DO have more acidity than reds. When someone says a wine is crisp, they mean they can taste the acidity. For a comparison, soft drinks use carbonation to create the same taste of acidity.

Although acidity doesn’t sound pleasant, it’s actually what gives white wine its “punch or bite” without this acidity, white wines would have more of a flat taste.

Much like a soft drink that has been left in the refrigerator for an extended period.

A wine that doesn’t have enough acidity would be considered “flabby”

I know how that feels….

We’ll talk more about it in another article, but a white wine with acidity is great for bland tasting foods.

It brings out the flavor. The reason you put lemon on your seafood is that the acidity of the lemon acts like salt and brings out the flavor.

The acidity in wine does the same thing. That’s one reason why white wine and seafood or poultry are such a great match.

Finally, lets talk about some of the flavors and aromas of white wines.

One of the most common flavors is citrus. Many people will smell aromas of grapefruit or oranges. Green apple and pear flavors are also extremely common.

OK, now that you know some common characteristics of white wines, enough to get you started. We will talk about specific varieties in future articles. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more on wine fill out the short form on the right side of the page to receive our wine mini course.

For even more info, click here for a great guide to wine. To see educational wine videos go to www.wineclassesonline.com