5 Essential White Wines For Beginners
Wine seems to have a stigma associated with it that in order to really enjoy it or to be able to order it appropriately while out you must have gone to several classes, grown up with a wine seller in your basement, or just have an air or snobbishness to you.
Well good news for you guys, I check all those boxes and I am here to tell you that none are necessary.
I have found that the wine world can tend to promote these ideas but really in the grand scheme of things you need to only have a basic understanding of what you are drinking, use that knowledge to find what you like, and then my favorite part is drink as much of what you like as you can. The point of wine is to enjoy yourself and relax while the delicious flavors and smooth alcohol content help to bring life to both the food and company if front of you.
So if you’re a beginner to this world or have dabbled a bit before I will now give some brief descriptions of the 5 main grape varieties used in white wine and what region for that varietal I enjoy the most. The grape type is where the wine type derives its name for most types of wines; some are combinations of different grapes and thus those will have different names.
This is a fine wine and you may see it as the “go to” for every girl over 25 you have ever met. Chardonnay is generally described, by people who know this type of thing, to be smooth, creamy, and full bodied with a fruity, citrus, and sometimes oaky taste. It is one of the most popular wines, red or white, in the world and really you can’t go wrong bringing a bottle to the next party you are invited to. I am of the opinion that the best Chardonnays in the world hail from the Burgundy region of France, and thus I tend to buy those types I recommend you do the same. For almost all the white wine carrying the “Bourgogne” title on their label you can safely assume is a Chardonnay grape.
This is the one that comes in that longer, more slender bottle for the most part. Riesling is generally a light and fruity, fairly sweet wine that people often pair with seafood. This is not my favorite of the white wines because I have found it easy to find less than stellar tastes in this field. However when it’s done right the Riesling can hold its own against any white wine on my palate. My experience is that German Rieslings are the way to go, but the French are pretty good in their own right.
This varietal is one of my favorite white wines; in fact a recent music festival saw me take two bottles straight to the face because at 12.5% ABV bottles of wine were the fiscally responsible play at said festival… this would not end well for me on that day but that is neither here nor there. This is a dry light and crisp white wine that has flavors that are often easier to taste for those of us who are lacking the taste buds found in the high class sommeliers out there. This is one of those grapes that has been making a big play into what some wine people call the “new world”, that being countries that are outside of the traditional wine growing countries, countries like New Zealand and South Africa. For this aviator, those Sauvignon Blancs coming out of the Marlborough region of New Zealand are the best bang for your buck.
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, that one threw me off for a bit in the early days. This is a fine white wine with ripe apple and pear tastes and crisp, light, fruit flavors. The taste this wine gives the drinker is known to vary greatly depending on where in the world the grapes are coming from as well as the vintners wine making techniques. I think the main take away with this wine is summed up by Jadakiss and Styles P, as they remind us in the We Belong Together Remix by Mariah Carey: “Big cups, Pinot Grigio… Take it easy, yo.” With that in mind take it easy and get a couple of bottles from different regions and have a taste test determine your favorite, I know my favorites are the home grown Oregon Pinot Gris.
Muscato, sometimes referred to just as Muscat (the grape name), is the wine you guys know from your high school days where this is what the girls at that party would want to all drink, hypothetically speaking of course. For me this is basically Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice with alcohol infused into it. Muscato is a very sweet, sometimes slightly sparkling from all the sugars, very grape tasting wine. I find it best as a desert wine but I know more than one girl who will drink this at a fine dining party, or straight out of a water bottle slung around her neck while we float the Arkansas River in Colorado. In either form it can be a delicious addition to any night, and I find the best versions come out of the Piedmont region of Italy for this grape. That same region uses the same grapes to make the Muscat d’Asti the more sparkling and dryer version of this type of wine.
I find white wines, which are generally light and served slightly chilled, are lovely for the summer nights when a red wine will just sit too heavy some times. Taste them all and figure out what your enjoy, but more importantly figure out what your significant other (or whoever you’re trying to impress) enjoys and buy that.