White Wine Types

white wine typesWhite Wine Types

By Mark Adams

Mark is a professional winemaker, former winery owner, author and frequent speaker on wine.  He currently teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

There are many white wine types, but  as you travel down the wine road, most people will like whites before they like reds. Some will never like whites and that’s OK.

But most people will like both white and red and will choose based on the food, their mood or the occasion.

To better understand white wines, let’s first talk 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 clear.

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

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For pink wines like white zinfandel, the skins are left in for just a little bit and then taken out, giving the wine its pink color.

Then why are some wines almost clear like pinot Grigio and some wines like chardonnay almost gold. Three reasons.

One, certain grape varieties are naturally darker than others.

Two, the winemakers process may lighten or darken the final wine

And three, as a white wine gets older, it usually turns a little darker.

Next, lets talk about taste. Lets use some wine words here.

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

Acidity- White wines typically 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 too long.

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

I know how that feels….

We’ll talk more about it in our wine and food section, 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.

Lastly, lets talk about some of the typical flavors and aromas of white wines types.

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 white wine types, we’ll look at specific varieties in future posts.

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