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Types of White Wine

Shopping for any kind of wine can be overwhelming these days. It seems as if everyone is taking a step into the world of wine making, and aside from the very recognizable names that have around for decades and even longer, you’ll find a host of new monikers on the shelves of your favorite wine shop.

This is true with all kinds of wine, including both reds and whites. So, if you’ve been searching for that perfect white to go with your chicken piccata recipe or your grilled halibut, you may find the selections a bit confusing.

All types of white wine come from white grapes. However, the end result depends on a lot more than just color. There are many varieties of white grapes and even those white wines from the same family may differ according to where the grapes are grown, the soil, the climate, and what happens once the grapes are picked and processed.

After you’ve tasted a variety of whites, you may zero in on a particular varietal that you enjoy or a particular part of the world which produces wines you favor. You might find that you like those grown on the European continent, namely Germany, Austria, France and Italy. Or you might prefer domestic white wines, grown in states like California, Oregon, New York and Washington. You may even develop a penchant for an Australian wine, or one from far-away South Africa.

If you’re a wine novice, it’s best to try several different whites, perhaps keeping a notebook and making notes as to what you like or dislike about each one. Below, you’ll find some popular varieties of white wines to try.

o Chardonnay – Considered the most complex of white wines as far as flavor is concerned, chardonnay is also the mother of all white grapes and can be successfully grown in most of the areas mentioned above. Its bouquet hints of butter, vanilla, spices, nuts, and fruit, and it’s a very versatile wine in general, good with most kinds of chicken and fish.

o Sauvignon Blanc – Grown primarily in the Bordeaux region of France, Sauvignon Blanc has a dominant fruity flavor that might remind one of apples, pears, melons, black currant, and even mango. The grapes are best grown in cooler climates so wine lovers may find those grown in Australia, for example, to be not quite as good as those processed in the Loire Valley of France. This fruity wine is ideal with seafood, chicken, and light fare like salads.

o Pinot Grigio – Suitable for pairing with a variety of white meats and fish, pinot grigio is a dry wine that grows well in Italy’s Venezia and Alto-Adige regions. It is known as Pinot Gris in the U.S. and is grown in some parts of California. Though all varieties have a citrus aroma, Pino Grigios can be very different from one another.

o Gewrztraminer – This popular German wine is also grown on the West Coast of the U.S. as well as in parts of New York. The name itself means “spicy” and this wine is indeed quite aromatic and very bold for a white wine. Look for flavors like lychee, rose petals, and allspice. Pair it with German pork dishes or sip it by itself.

o Chenin Blanc – Chenin Blanc is grown in both the Loire Valley of France and in California’s northern vineyards. Its claim to fame is its presence in inexpensive table wines and those college students might buy in large jugs! High in acidity, its taste is fruity and light.

o Riesling – Made from a popular German grape, Riesling is a very flowery, fruity wine that can pair with seafood, chicken, or pork. They are sweet-tasting and often resemble apples. Many New York-grown Rieslings have achieved acclaim as the climate there seems best for growing this type of grape.