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White Wine Types and Their Characteristics

Whether you are selling wine or just enjoying it, you to have the knowledge of the white wine types available and their characteristics. The basic information is a good start to get you familiarized with your list. Once you have the basics down dive in deeper as the more knowledge you have the better.

So... Who Invented Alcohol

Wine is they product of a natural process in which yeast forms on the skins of the grapes (or other fruits) and the contact with oxygen creates a process know as fermentation. The fermentation process is when the yeast eats the sugars and converts them to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The process is the same for all types of alcohol. So what makes the different white wine types? The grapes used in the process do.

Major White Wine Types

CHARDONNAY (shar-dn-ay) the big boy of the white wine often referred to as the queen of grapes. It ranges from flinty to oaky to buttery depending on the processes used but always has reminiscent honey, citrus fruits, and vanilla undertones. This grape is the primary grape in the Burgundy region of France; Chablis, White Burgundy, Pouilly Fuisse; which are all Chardonnays.

SAUVIGNON BLANC (SOH-vihn-yohn-Blahn) also commonly known as Fume blanc. This white wine type produces a dry wine of many varying styles, some have the intensity of Chardonnay while others are very light and refreshing. The flavors here are more earthy than fruity. On the nose you will get a smell of hay, fresh herbs, and smoke. Sauvignon Blanc is also one of the primary grapes of France’s Bordeaux region; Sancerre, and Pouilly fume regions.

CHENIN BLANC (Shen-ihn Blahn) Like Chardonay, Chenin Blanc comes in many styles. Many are dry and crisp and still others add a touch of sweetness. All have high level of acidity which makes them great food wines. Chenin Blanc is also primary white grape in Loire Valley in France.

RIESLING (rees-ling) Commonly known as White Riesling and Johannisberg Riesling. This white wine type has flavors ranging from dry to intensely sweet. Dry styles have high acidity with bloom, grapefruit, honey, and nectarines on the nose while the sweeter wines exhibit the same smells in more pronounced fashion.

GEWURTZRAMINER (guh-vurtz-trah-mee-ner) Strong smells of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

PINOT BLANC (Pee-noh Blahn) is a more delicate tupe of white wine with an appley aroma making it a great aperitifs.

SEMILLON (say-mee-yohn) This is the sweet white wine of Bordeaux and is seldom used alone as it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc which adds sweetness to the earthy overtones and creates a well rounded and full bodied wine.

VIOGNIER (vee-oh-Nynay) White grape which is predominately grown in the Rhone region. It is commonly mixed with Syrah to make Cote Rotie from Rhone.

PINOT GRIS / GRIGIO (Pee-Noh-gree) This light, fruity, slightly spicy, fresh and crisp type of white wine is certainly pleasing on the palate as it is growing in popularity especially in the US markets.

Go from White Wine Types to Red Wine Types

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