Here we go with Part II of my primer to the many varieties of grapes used in wine. This post will focus on some of the common grapes used to produce white wines (you can check out part I focusing on red wines here).
First, here comes the crazy part…white wines can be made from dark grapes…magic you say!! No!! Basically all grapes produce clear juice no matter what color the skin. After grapes get harvested they get lightly crushed and the stems get removed, what remains (skins and seeds) is called the “must.” Red wine gets its color from the juice staying in contact with the crushed skins and seeds. To produce white wine the “must” gets passed through a plate (pneumatic) press that squeezes the juice out. This is also why white wines lack the astringent nature of red wines, as tannins are mostly imparted on the wine from the contact with the skins, seeds, and stems. For the most part, white wines are produced from grapes with yellow, green, and even pink skins, but there are exceptions; Pinot Grigio for example is a grayish/purple grape used to produce white wine. Enough of my nerdy fascination with the process (for now), onto the wines.
Again, I want to discuss some of the more common wine types you are likely to encounter on a regular basis. I preface all of this with, I am not an expert and my perception of taste and smell may be different than yours. These are just some of the common aromas and flavors that you could expect in the varieties below.
Aromas – Honey, Floral, Peach, Citrus, Pineapple
Tastes – Sweet honey, Citrus, Generally very rich
Feel – Rich, Full Body, Almost viscous feel, High acid, Low alcohol
Three common types of Riesling:
Kabinett – Comes from the first harvest of the season – less sweet, driest of the Rieslings
Spatlese – Comes from the second harvest of the season – slightly sweeter
Auslese – Comes from the third harvest of the season – sweetest of the three types
Aromas – Apple, Orange,
Tastes – Peach, Orange, Honey
Feel – Full bodied, Viscous, Almost a thin honey like texture, High acid but balanced with high sugar
Gewurztraminer (Prounounced: Geh-verts-trah-me-ner)
Aromas – Floral, Spicy
Tastes – Grapefruit, Pineapple, Floral, Spicy
Feel – Full bodied, Spicy, Dry/Sweet, Low acidity, High alcohol
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio
Aromas – Floral, Citrus (lemon)
Tastes – Lemon, Apple, Pear
Feel – Light, Crisp, Medium to high acidity
Aromas – Lemon, Grass, Grapefruit
Taste – Green apple, Citrus (grapefruit and lime), Melon, Grassy
Feel – Light bodied, Crisp, High acidity, Tangy and tart
Aromas – Citrus, Lemon, Apple, Melon, Herbal, Vanilla, Tropical
Tastes – Apple, Citrus, Tropical fruit, Oak, Vanilla
Feel – Crisp acidity, Dry, Full bodied
Admittedly, I’m pretty red-centric, but I have really enjoyed a nice chilled white these past couple of weeks with the (fading) hot weather. If you haven’t had a white wine in a while, toss one in the fridge or the chiller for a bit and enjoy it outside while you can.