When it comes to getting acquainted with wines, it's common to start with white wines. They can be fruity, zesty, refreshing and easy to drink. And, because they are chilled, they are often more approachable when starting to explore wines.
White wines can range from being light, sweet and fruity to bold, rich and creamy. So, here are four common white wines that span the spectrum.
Starting with the lighter and sweeter end of the spectrum you'll find Riesling (REEZ-ling). With Rieslings you'll find that they can be somewhat sweet or they can be dry. And remember, dry refers to the amount of residual sugar in the wine, not the way it feels in your mouth. So, a slightly sweet, or 'off-dry' Riesling can have bright flavors of green apple, lime and a hint of honey-like flavor. And, Riesling has high acidity, which means that it gives you a mouth-watering feel when drinking.
Next along the spectrum would be Pinot Grigio (Pee-noh GREE-gee-oh) or Pinot Gris (Pee-noh GREE), as it's known in France. This light-bodied wine is also zesty and thirst quenching. American Pinot Grigio is typically very fruity with flavors of lemon, melon and peach and tend to be mildly sweet.
Moving up the spectrum of white wine takes us next to Sauvignon Blanc (so-vin-YAWN-Blonk). Again, this is a light-bodied white wine that's zesty with flavors of grapefruit and honeydew melon. In addition to these fruit flavors, Sauvignon Blanc is described by some as having very subtle 'green' flavors of green pepper and grass. This is a fruit-filled wine that can be slightly sweet.
And finally, at the bold and rich end of the white wine spectrum is Chardonnay (Shar-doe-Nay). But even within Chardonnays, they can range from light and fruity to rich and creamy. This comes from the fermentation process. The light and fruity Chardonnays are fermented in stainless steel tanks while the richer Chardonnays are fermented and aged in oak. And, when the oaked Chardonnays go through a second process (malolactic fermentation), the malic acid which is tart and tangy is converted to lactic acid (think milk) that can yield a rich, creamy and buttery Chardonnay.
While all of these white wines should be served chilled, they aren't chilled to refrigerator temperatures. If you do chill your white wine in the refrigerator, just take them out about 30 minutes before you serve them. Or, if you have a wine refrigerator, store and serve them in the 45 to 55 degree F temperature range for optimum flavor. The lighter, zestier wines should be the coolest with the oaked Chardonnay on the warmer end of the temperature range.
So, there's a quick run through the spectrum of a few basic white wines. Next time we'll explore some other white wines that are similar to those discussed here to help expand your white wine drinking options. Until then, cheers!