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White Wine buying guide

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White Wine Guide - An Introduction

White wine covers a wide variety of different colours and tastes. They range from a clear white colour to a golden yellow, and they can be dry, sweet, or semi-sweet. Compared to red wines, they are known for their light colour, complex taste, and body.

Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented juice from white grapes mixed with yeast. Different grapes and yeasts are used depending on the wine’s variety, and some white wines combine more than one type of grape.

Wine making dates back to around 6000 BC, originating in the regions of Iran and Georgia. Wine first arrived in Europe about 4500 BC, beginning in Greece. Wine has long played an important role in various religions throughout history. The Roman god Bacchus represented wine, while Jewish and Christian ceremonies use wine for such religious ceremonies as Kiddush and Holy Communion.

There are hundreds of varietals, vineyards, and vintages of white wine, which could make the shopping experience seem overwhelming. Price Inspector is here to help. Our research will inform you about your different choices. When you know what you want to buy, we help you find cheap prices. We compare prices at the UK stores to get you the cheapest prices possible.

Understanding wine labelling

There are two primary types of wines. They can be made from a single variety of grape, known as a varietal wine. They can also be made by combining several grape varieties, which is called a blended wine.

To be a "vintage wine," the wine must be made primarily with grapes grown in a single year, and the label will indicate the year. A vintage wine may contain a small percentage of grapes from a different vintage year. Every year, depending on the growing conditions, the grape’s character can have differences in body, colour, palate, nose, and development. With a non-vintage wine, the wine maker blends grapes from two or more years to create a more consistent flavour. This helps the wine label maintain a consistent image even during bad years.

French wines use a different labeling system based on the wine’s quality. Vin de Table is the name for “table wine,” and Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or AOC represents the upper end wines. Some other countries such as Germany, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Greece use similar systems to regulate their wine trades.

Types of white wines

  • Chardonnay is the main white grape in the Burgundy wine region of France, although it is widely grown in California and New Zealand. It provides a fruity aroma, often evoking melon, citrus, or green apple. Chardonnay wine is usually aged in oak barrels, which creates a thick, buttery wine. It has a rich flavour, but it is delicate and dry. California Chardonnays tend to have an oaky flavour from the barrel aging.
  • Chenin Blanc wines commonly have apple, pear, or melon aromas, and occasionally a honey aroma. This grape is used to make both sweet and dry wines. In South Africa, it is known as Steen, while it is called Pinot Blanco in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. It is widely grown in Australia, California, and New Zealand.
  • Gewürztraminer is well known for its spicy flavour and floral aroma. It is used to make many different wines, especially sweeter dessert wines. It is mostly grown in Alsace, France; Germany; New Zealand; and in the Unites States in California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Muscadelle provides the aroma of acacia, grapefruit, and raisins. It is one of three grapes that can be used to make white Bordeaux. It is primarily grown in France, with only small numbers grown in California and Australia.
  • Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, has aromas of wood or dried fruit. It is a spicy, versatile wine, often used for making blush wines. The majority is grown in Italy, with smaller amounts grown in Oregon, California, and France.
  • Reisling provides floral aromas, as well as apple and apricot. It is common to Germany and Alsace, France. It can be made from very dry to very sweet, but it usually falls in the semi-dry category. It is sometimes grown in the cooler regions of the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.
  • Sauvignon Blanc provides the aroma of melons, grapefruit, grass, or bell peppers. It is a grassy flavoured wine, most commonly used in France and California. It is one of three grapes that can be used to make white Bordeaux.
  • Vouvray wine represents several different wines. It can be sweet, flavoured, full-bodied, or dry. Vouvray refers to the region in France where it is produce. The sweet wines have a golden colour and are fruity and fresh. The dry and semi-dry wines are intense and richly flavoured.

Wine brands

There are numerous brands to choose from, and some of the more popular brands include:

  • Cloudy Bay produces a range of white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Reisling, and Gewürztraminer. The cool New Zealand climate produces grapes of great intensity. They are widely respected as being at the pinnacle of the Marlborough wine making region, with their Sauvignon Blanc being their best wine. Cloudy Bay white wine is known for vibrant aromas and layered fruit flavours.
  • Oyster Bay wine also hails from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc won a gold medal in its first vintage, also receiving the prestigious Marquis de Goulaine award for Best Sauvignon Blanc. Oyster Bay white wine represents one of the best wine labels in New Zealand.
  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc is an outstanding New World wine. It has a pale colour, with fresh aromas of earth and grass. Its flavours include citrus, lime, and grapefruit. It is well paired with herby entrees, seafood, and Mexican foods.
  • Blossom Hill wine is a Great Britain winery. They offer a Sauvignon Blanc with crisp, citrusy flavours. Their Chardonnay provides flavours of ripe melon and soft apples. The Chardonnay pairs with fish and seafood, creamy pastas, and risottos. The Sauvignon Blanc is well paired with seafood, including mussels, oysters, and langoustines.
  •  Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay comes from one of Australia’s oldest wineries. This wine has been recognised internationally as being a great wine for a great value. It is known for consistent quality, offering flavours of melon, pineapple, and peach.

Tips to consider buying buying White Wine

  • Your first decision is whether you want a sweet, dry, or semi-dry wine. One type of white wine can run the gamut from sweet to dry, depending on the winery.
  • If you have a favourite variety of white wine, consider experimenting with different vintages for comparison. If you find a vintage that you especially like, stock up while you can still find it. Be sure to store the wine properly, in a cool, dark location, preferably on its side.
  • Also try your favourite varietal from another country. There can be differences between the same grape varietal when it is grown in a different region, as climate conditions vary. Popular growing regions include France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Chile, South Africa, California, Argentina, and Spain.
  • Remember that Food pairing suggestions are just that: suggestions. They are not a rule. There are certainly traditions about what is considered a proper food pairing, with white wines commonly paired with seafood and red wines paired with red meats. However, if you want your favourite white wine with red meat or a tomato sauce pasta, there’s no reason that you can’t.
  • When tasting wines, consider the look, smell, and taste. The look considers the colour and clarity of the wine. Pour the wine into a wine glass, and then hold it against a white background such as a tablecloth for comparison. Is it clear, straw coloured, pale yellow, golden, or amber? Is it translucent or opaque? Regarding smell, gently swirl your glass to vaporise some of the alcohol to release more aroma. Take a quick sniff for a first impression. Now stick your nose into the glass and inhale deeply. What is your second impression? Common aromas include oak, flowers, berries, vanilla, and citrus. Now take a small sip, letting it roll around on your tongue. You will experience different flavours in different phases, known as the Attack Phase for the first impression, the Evolution Phase for the middle, and the Finish is how long the flavour lasts after you swallow.
  • Take notes on your impressions of the wines you taste. This will help you buy it again if you liked it, avoid a repeat buy if you didn’t like it, and consider what foods you’d like to pair it with in the future.

Jargon Explained

VarietalWine using a single type of grape, instead of blending different grapes.
VintageWine made primarily from grapes grown in a single season

Buying Guide to White Wine
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