ALL ABOUT WHITE WINE
White wines come in all sorts of varieties and flavors for us to enjoy. No matter whether you like your wine dry (with minimum sugar) or sweet, light or bold, fruity or herbal, LiquorSplit carries a wine with you in mind. Every style of white wine embodies different characteristics layered on top of each other, so learning to find the wine that fits you can take a while. Let LiquorSplit take the hassle out of learning and understanding different wines so that you can get around to enjoying them!
Wine’s earliest documentations actually existed before most written histories! In the Caucasus Region, more specifically the modern day country of Georgia (not the state), records of wine-making and drinking depicted in art and sculptures date back 6,000 to 8,000 BCE. They would bury grape juice during the winter to let it ferment, and could leave it up to 50 years in some of their containers.
Romans began planting their own vineyards to avoid shipping costs, and discovered techniques to make it taste better. The medieval Roman Catholic Church used wine regularly at Mass, so many monks learned the winemaking technique and aged their wines in caves. While the wines tasted better than earlier versions, most of the wine produced for ceremony lacked qualities people look for today.
As time progressed, vintners from France, Italy, and Spain further refined wines and brought them to the rest of the world. Mission grapes, brought by Fransiscan monks to New Mexico and California, kick started their industries. Initially, US vintners tried to create their own vineyards, but attempts to create vineyards in Virginia and Florida both failed. Because the Spanish understood the necessary climates and conditions needed to grow bountiful vineyards, the US could finally begin crafting their own wines.
How White Wine is Made
The winemaking process involves a few different steps. First, winemakers grow and harvest grape varieties that produce a particular style of wine. Then, they prepare the grapes for fermentation by either leaving the bunches on their stems or removing them, which affects the sweetness of the wine.
For white wines, vintners remove the grape skins early since they don’t factor into the taste as much as they do for red wines. They then leave the juice to sit for one to three days in a cool place under 45°F. They adjust the pH to 3.0 - 3.25 to ensure the right conditions for fermentation.
After all the preparation, vintners start alcohol production by adding yeast to the must to start fermentation. Wine naturally ferments with yeasts in the air if left alone, so most winemakers inoculate the must and add the yeast of their choosing. The soon-to-be wine gets stirred twice a day and ferments for at least a week although most get left alone for much longer periods. Winemakers add S02 (sulfur dioxide) to halt malolactic fermentation, which keeps white wine tasting fresh and crisp.
Finally, winemakers let the wine clarify and degas it. White wines take about three to six months to clear up and still have a lot of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in them that needs to be released. Once they remove the excess gas, they either bottle the product or “cold crash” it. Cold crashing means halting the fermentation as it finishes by lowering temperatures to around 30-35°F, which leaves residual sugars behind and makes it sweeter before bottling.
- Chardonnay - As with most styles, chardonnay tastes different depending on the vineyard’s locale. It typically carries tastes of lemon, apple, papaya, and pineapple, and even vanilla when aged in oak. Most varieties boast medium to full bodies and present fairly dry (low sugar).
- Sauvignon Blanc - With flavors like passion fruit, white peach, grapefruit, gooseberry, and honeydew, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with quite a few dishes, however, it can be overpowered if dishes flavors come across too strong.
- Riesling - These wines can be sweet or dry depending on the vintner's purposes. They commonly present flavors like pear, apricot, peaches, apple, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and nectarine.
- Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio - Vintners produce this style in both dry and sweet styles, and the difference in name mostly comes from where vintners produce it. French winemakers call theirs pinot gris, and it tastes spicier, dry, and richer than its close relative. Italian pinot grigio carries more light bodied and acidic profiles tasting of apples, stone fruits, and floral notes.
- Chenin Blanc - Vintners craft chenin blanc in a few different styles that produce different flavors. Dry (low sugar) varieties taste like ginger, chamomile, quince, and sour pear. Off dry styles leave some natural sugars behind and produce flavors like pear, honeycomb, ginger, jasmine, and passion fruit. Sweet chenin blancs carry persimmon, mango, almond, ginger, and mandarin. Lastly, sparkling varieties can be dry or sweet and their profiles offer quince, ginger, floral, apple, and plum flavors.
- Grüner Veltliner - Grüner veltliner comes in two styles that both carry high acidities and flavors like grapefruit, lemon, nectarine, and lime. They also carry herbal flavors like white pepper, tarragon, ginger, and green vegetable flavors. The cheaper, classic varieties more common in America present nice citrus flavors that end as sharp as they start. The higher quality “Reserve” style creates more complex notes and creamy honey flavors as they finish.
- Sémillon - Sémillon from warm climates like South Africa carry peach and mango flavors, while colder climates produce less sour varieties. Common flavors also include honey, straw, lemon, apple, and floral tastes.