White Wine Profiles

White Wine Profiles

Most white wines of the world are stainless tank fermented and aged. They should be consumed within 18 months after bottling. That in mind; make it a habit to look at the vintage every time you buy a bottle of white wine.  In this consumer-tip column, I am taking Chardonnay that is moderately to heavily oaked out of the lesson. Note:  Chardonnay that is mid to bottom shelf is not worth aging for any length of time and should be consumed soon after purchasing.  


The 2016 white wines grown in the northern hemisphere are just hitting the shelves and are fresh and lively.   The southern hemisphere whites (New Zealand, Australia, South America, South Africa) were harvested back in February and March of 2016 and still have plenty of zest and fruitiness. A common fresh and juicy choice is a Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a versatile varietal to pair with food and a pleasant quaff on its own. However, if you are game to broaden your white-wine palate, here’s a list of lesser-known varietals that are worth seeking out:


Albariño: Your first taste of this explosively flavorful Spanish white will have you hooked. Serve ice cold with your next Thai or Indian meal. Flavors include: Lemon, grapefruit, nectarine, melon, wet gravel.


French Chablis and Pouilly-Fuissé: These whites produced in France are made from the Chardonnay grape. The inexpensive selections are exposed to very little oak aging and should be consumed young. Flavors: Crisp green apple, honey, lemon.


Grüner Veltliner: Austria’s signature white is a perfect low-alcohol sipper. Serve at parties to keep inebriation at bay.  Flavors: Green pear, lemon zest, flint.


Vinho Verde: Another refreshing, low-alcohol choice from northern Portugal that often surprises with a slight spritz. It hovers around 10 percent alcohol. Drink ice cold in a plastic tumbler on a hot day at the river. Next time you are in a Trader Joe’s, stock up. TJ’s carries a couple different labels at around $5 a bottle. At that price, it’s affordable to buy a case or two for summer-time meals and patio gatherings. Flavors: Melon, gooseberry, lemon.


Other white wines to seek out include Grenache Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Torrontés, Txakolina and Vermentino.


Pam Long is a wine educator, consultant and writer. Consider a career in the Wine and Beverage industry and earn your Wine Studies Certificate through HSU’s eLearning & Extended Education. Enroll now for Winemaking 101, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, with Wil Franklin; a one-day intensive seminar covering winemaking fundamentals.  Email Pam: thewinedummy@gmail.com.
Emerald contributor since March 2012


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