Some wine drinkers are set in their ways and know they have a strong preference for white or red wine while others are less about the colour and tend to have a preference for particular aspects of the flavour profile, such as how sweet or dry a wine is. Wine preferences are such a personal thing that it can be hard to pin down someone else’s preferences.
While there are many key differences between red and white wine varieties, which we will cover later in this article, all grape varieties in the world today share a common ancestor called Vitis vinifera that can be considered the grandfather of modern grape varieties. It is believed that the grapes were originally red, and white grapes arose from a mutation somewhere down the genetic line.
Generally speaking, white wines are made from white grapes and red wines are made from red or black grapes. In reality, some white wines are made by using dark coloured grapes with their skins removed at the right moment during processing and fermentation so they don’t impart much colour or flavour into the wine.
Red wines will be fermented with the skins and seeds intact which increases the tannin levels and deepens the colour. White wines are pressed in such a way that the seeds and skins are discarded prior to fermentation. Red grapes can also be used to make the less common orange wine, which is always an exciting thing to try because of its unique flavours. With that said, here are some white wines you need to try this year.
No list of the best white wines would be complete without discussing the charming characteristics of a good chardonnay. It is considered to be the most loved white wine in the world, and for good reason. It is one of the easiest grapes to grow and does well in a wider range of conditions than other grapes, which means it is grown more widely than other varieties.
The beauty of this is the fact that differing minerality of each growing location gives each vineyards’ chardonnay a completely unique taste. It is a delicious alternative to a pinot grigio because they occupy a similar role in our wine cellars, though each has something different to offer.
Famously grown in the Loire Valley of France, chenin blanc has a beautiful, crisp acidity and delicate fruit flavours. It is a dry white that has a high minerality and is packed with tart, juicy pear and light ginger flavours. Bottles that are on the sweeter side retain much of this minerality and crispness, but the fruit flavours are more intense and rich.
Chenin blanc is also popularly enjoyed as a sparkling wine, such as a dry Brut and a sweet Demi-Sec. The sheer versatility of chenin blanc means it is the ideal wine for any occasion, and while historically this wine is French, it is also grown extensively in South Africa. In fact, South Africa’s production of chenin blanc has surpassed that of France for the past few years now.
Moscato is a centuries old wine, though it is only recently gaining serious popularity outside of its native Italy. It is made from muscat blanc grapes which are one of the oldest varieties in the world. These wines tend to be affordable, and are loved for their sweeter, fruitier flavours, bursting with peach and orange blossom.
The sweetness in this type of wine comes from the high levels of residual grape sugars that remain after the fermentation process. Despite being on the sweeter side, moscato is still light on the palate which makes it the ideal accompaniment to desserts, salty or spicy dishes, and appetisers.
If these wine varieties have given you an appetite to try something new, then consider picking up a bottle the next time you are out, or ordering some from a specialty supplier online. The wines we have discussed are far from the only white wines you can indulge in for something deliciously different, and notable varieties we have not talked about include semillon, pinot gris, gruner veltliner, and riesling. These are also wonderful, characterful wines that are sure to delight for any occasion.