White Wine 101
Are you at a fancy restaurant with an extensive wine list at hand, and have absolutely no idea about what to order? Fret not, for most of us have been on that boat at one time or another. Recently, I visited the Douro Valley in Portugal and was blown away by their heritage port wines and beautiful vineyards. Throughout my trip, I hopped from vineyard to vineyard and sipped on wines created with different textures, aromas, and aftertastes. Now that I have experienced heaven (also called drunkenness) in Portugal, I’m excited to decode the basics of wine for you.
Before you head out the door to start shopping, note that most liquor stores do not store wine correctly, which can alter the taste and smell of wine. Instead, take a U-turn, and drive to specialized stores such as The Wine Table in Mumbai, to make sure your guests at a dinner party receive the exact wine they were expecting.
To give you a little back story, wine is made by stomping (all the best wines use the age-old tradition) the grapes and keeping them at cool temperatures to extract the fruit flavours and colours. The temperatures are then raised, mobilizing the yeast to produce alcohol. The wine is then allowed to age either in an oak barrel giving it smoother, vanilla notes or in a steel tank making it zesty and more refreshing.
Most of us know whether we like red or white wine so for those white wine lovers, here’s a guide on the most popular kinds of grapes.
Sauvignon Blanc (sew-vin-yaw blahnk)
This extraordinary grape was originally harvested in the Loire Valley of France and Bordeaux. The Sauvignon from this region bursts with green, herbaceous notes while most modern-day Sauvignon Blancs are fresh and fruity.
Pair with this wine with foods with green herbs such as parsley and rosemary and ingredients with high acidity such as fish.
MF Recommends: Miguel Torres San Medin, Central Valley, Chile and Sileni Cellar Selection, Marlborough, New Zealand.
The white grape used to make this wine is widely grown in Burgundy, France. A Chardonnay is an easy to drink white and is super versatile. It can be smoky, dry, fruity or spicy based on how it has been aged. For example, unoaked chardonnay’s often display notes of apple, melon, and starfruit while an oaked wine has notes of vanilla and cream.
Pair this gorgeous wine with chicken, fatty fish, French style quiches and rich sauces.
MF Recommends: Joseph Drouhin La Foret, Burgundy, France and Piccini Chardonnay, Tuscany, Italy.
Originating from Germany, you will either love or hate this sweet wine. On first taste, you will get notes of apricot, pear, and honey along with a striking aroma. These notes will soon be replaced by sweeter, acidic, fruitier flavours.
MF Recommends: Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt RK, Mosel- Saar- Ruwer, Germany and De Bortoli Family Selection Traminer Riesling, South Australia.
Pinot Grigio (pee-no gree-jhio)
A good pinot grigio is probably your best bet when trying to please everyone. These wines are usually very light, dry (which means not too sweet) and fresh. You will often taste flavours of honeycomb, lemon candy and white peach that pair superbly well with almost anything you are serving.
MF Recommends: De Bortoli Family Selection Pinot Grigio, South Australia and Colterenzio Lumo Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy.
Hopefully, by now, the wine list won’t scare you as much as it did before! A good rule of thumb to go by is that the heavier your meal, the sweeter and lighter the wine you should choose. Happy drinking!
Thank you, Parth Mehta(@thesommnz) for the valuable information on white wines!