Learn About White Wine

Here are a list of facts and tips to help you learn everything you need to know about white wine. Become a white wine expert with this simple tutorial.

Color: From clear as water to a straw yellow. Green tinges are not unheard of, especially in youth. With time and oxidation, a golden color is common.

Fruit: A wide variety of fruit flavors are represented in white wines. Lychee nut, peaches and tropical fruits are all common.

Tannins: Since white wine is made with minimal skin contact, there is almost no tannin associated with the grapes. There is tannin that results from oak aging, but they are much lighter than the tannins associated with red wines.

Astringency: Some white wines exhibit signs of astringency, a drying out of the mouth. This is mostly found in Rhone whites and the richest Chardonnays.

Off Tastes as Smells:

Wet cardboard - Corked wine.
Wet horse blanket - Brett, a common bacterial spoilage, in smaller concentrations it is more like dirt than merde. Much rarer in whites than in reds.
Slight sparkle - if it is slight it is dissolved CO2, if it is accompanied by a wet forest floor smell, than it is Malo-Lactic fermentation in the bottle.
Wine Making Flavors:

Malo-Lactic Fermentation - The process of changing the sharp malic acid (in apples) into the softer lactic acid (in milk). The process also leaves the by product DIACETYL, the taste of butter.

Oak - If it is complex with cloves and woody spices, it is French oak. If it is forward with vanilla, it is American oak. If it is musty it is from old barrels.

Oxidation - Caramel, or a burnt sugar smell. Deep golden hues in the wine are another hint. This is most common with older white wines.

Blending - While not always obvious, a wine that tastes complex may have been blended with several grape varieties.

Climatic Characteristics:

Hot weather - A deep rich flavor lacking in acidity or bright fruit. The hotter the region the more flabby (less acidic) the wines tend to be. Because of the overripe fruit, and the propensity to oxidize hot fruit, the color tends towards golden shades of yellow.

Cool weather - Cool growing conditions pronounce the acidity. If the fruit is picked too early, it will be sharply acidic. If they are picked too late, there is a chance of damage from freezing.

Temperate weather - If it is not too hot nor too cool, the ideal grape varieties are those with long growing seasons. A balance between acidity and sugar levels are more easily accomplished.

Note: In white wine especially, modern winemaking techniques help to counteract many of the shortcomings of climate.

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About The Author, Vino Vixen
Jennifer de Jong is a long time wine drinker, enjoyer of wine, and non-wine-snob. She is the founder of VinoVixenz a snob free zone to learn wine tasting. Fr