How to choose the perfect white wine
White wine is underrated. Everyone thinks of red wine as the ultimate grape-based libation, but white wine is not only as complex as red wine, but it’s also just as thrilling.
White wine comes in myriad wine styles; it’s made with dozens of different grapes and in all sweetness levels. There’s a bottle of white wine for every occasion!
Before sharing a few tips for choosing white wines, let us invite you to live your passion for wine at its fullest at Quinta dos Vales. We call Algarve home, the southernmost region in Portugal, where white and red varietals ripen beautifully every year! Experience the wine country and enjoy the area in between tastings. That’s the good life right there.
1. To oak or not to oak?
Perhaps the two most significant white wine styles are those aged in oak barrels and those that spend time in stainless-steel vats.
Oak barrels are more than a vessel to ferment and store wine; the wood changes its contents in more than one way. White wine fermented and aged in oak is creamy and spicy, with hints of brown spices and vanilla, often over a full-bodied palate.
On the other hand, when producers make white in inert stainless-steel tanks, the wine is fruity and pure. Both styles are lovely, but you might like one more than the other.
2. Consider the wine’s acidity
When it comes to white wine, acidity matters. Much more than in any other wine category. Tartness gives wine its refreshing personality. The more acidity, the crisper the wine.
Some grape varieties produce more acidic wines than others, like Sauvignon Blanc. Still, the climate where the grapes grow and the hand of the winemaker ultimately defines the wine’s acidity. Tart wines are best paired with seafood; white wine with medium acidity might best suit creamy sauces and white meat. Wine from cold climates is often more acidic than the one from sunnier wine regions, but you might be surprised!
3. Find the right sweetness
What’s special about white wine is that it can surprise your palate with all sweetness levels, something red wine rarely does. Most white wine is dry, as it is the most refreshing and food compatible, but sweet and semi-sweet wines exist – some are desserts in their own right.
If you’re not all that into dry wine, sweet white wines are for you, which are, by the way the perfect pairing for sweet and even spicy food. Producers can make sweet white wine with any grape variety.
4. Is sparkling wine white wine?
Sparkling wine is in its own category, but we can’t ignore that most of it is white. So, is sparkling wine white wine? Why not? Sparkling wine is not only the most versatile wine style on the table, but it is also delicious on its own, whether dry or attractively sweet.
If you’re having difficulty choosing white wine for your dinner party or everyday enjoyment, bubbles are always a safe bet. Besides, sparkling wine is not always expensive, and it can be more varied than you think. Have a bottle of fizz in the fridge at all times, and you’ll already be a better host.
5. Don’t overlook the grapes!
Now that we’ve talked about winemaking techniques and wine styles that make white wines special, let’s talk about grapes. Yes, if you’re wondering how to choose white wine, the varietal matters.
Every white grape has a distinctive personality. Chardonnay tastes like apples and white flowers, and Sauvignon Blanc offers citrus and herbal scents. Viognier is all about flowers and peaches, and that’s just the beginning. Lesser-known varietals have their own scents as well and discovering them is thrilling. Although wine is more than its scents, this is a great start. Know your grapes, and you’ll already be choosing better wine.
6. Young or well-aged?
Most white wine is meant to be experienced young — it’s designed that way. White wine is ready to drink from the moment it comes out of the winery and up to three years. If you were thinking of getting an older bottle of white, choose carefully.
Yes, some of the most prestigious white wines in the world will age well, but they will evolve. However, these wines are often heavy and bold, which is not always what you’re looking for.
It’s worth mentioning that sweet white wines are impressively age-worthy, and you can enjoy them several decades after they’re bottled.
The Best White Wine is the One You Still Haven’t Tried
Although learning about the most popular white grapes is handy and quite delicious, there are many other white grapes out there, and they’re often of excellent value.
At Quinta dos Vales, we produce thirst-quenching white wines with local Portuguese varieties like Arinto, Verdelho, Síria & Malvasia Fina. Needless to say, these grapes are noble varietals in their own right. Wait until you try them! Visit Quinta dos Vales and learn something new — take your love for wine and food to the next level in a charming vinous experience, one only found in Algarve.