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White Wine

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

With so many wines available from around the world, choosing a bottle can be an overwhelming experience for the average wine drinker. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate through the wine store.

The Basics

  • Personal taste, the occasion, and the food you’re serving it with dictate the type of wine you buy.

  • White grapes 101:

    • Chardonnay is a popular, versatile grape, that can taste anywhere from rich and buttery to oaky and dry and is good with simply prepared seafood and poultry dishes.

    • Pinot Grigio is very dry and acidic, great for sipping as an aperitif or with lighter cuisines. Serve well chilled.

    • Pinot Gris is the same grape but it can taste quite different depending on where it’s grown. It has flavours of apple, apricot, peach and honey.

    • Sauvignon Blanc is reminiscent of tangy citrus and green fruit, and is a versatile food wine for shellfish, lighter fish and chicken dishes, pasta with pesto, and Caesar salad.

    • Semillon has lemon, lime and honey tones with a woody character of toast as it ages and is sometimes combined with Chardonnay.

    • Riesling is a good choice if you don’t know what to bring. Experts say it almost goes with everything. A sweeter Riesling is also good as an after dinner wine paired with light cheeses and even chocolate.

    • Gewurztraminer is also on the sweet side. Its full, fruity, and spicy flavours make it ideal to pair with Asian food, appetizers, pork and grilled sausages.

  • The shape of the bottle may give insight to the wine inside:

    • Fruity wines are often in slim, flute-shaped bottles.

    • Dry wines are found in bottles with definite shoulders, called Bordeaux style.

  • With white wine, time spent in the bottle isn’t always as much of an issue as with red. Many white wines are meant to be consumed within the first year after they’ve been bottled. The exception to this rule is for wines aged in oak barrels. More time in the bottle allows the oak to mesh with the other characteristics of the wine.

Other Considerations

  • Picking the right wine comes with practice and experience. In a pinch, stick to what you know and like.

  • Just because it has a screw cap doesn’t mean it’s bad. More and more wine producers are turning to screw caps and plastic corks because of a worldwide shortage in cork supply. The use of cork is about tradition and not critical in the bottling and aging of wine.

TEST CRITERIA

While there are several types of white wine, we tested these ever-popular Chardonnay with the help of some expert wine tasters:

  • Ernest & Gallo Turning Leaf (California): $11.99
  • J. Lohr (California): $25
  • Renmano (Australian Boxed Wine): $8.09 /750 ml
  • Lindeman’s (Australian): $15
  • Cedar Creek (Canadian): $16
  • J. Moreau & Fils (French Chablis): $35

Taste Test

  • 75% of testers selected the Canadian Cedar Creek for its light and refreshing taste and versatility for food pairing.

  • The J. Lohr was a favourite with one tester who really appreciates an intensely oaky Chardonnay with a rich and buttery taste.

  • We all enjoyed the Turning Leaf and the Lindeman’s: both had a very refreshing component and were light and easy to sip.

  • The French Chablis wasn’t in tune with our new world tastes, or budgets.

  • We were pleasantly surprised by the economical and smooth-tasting Australian boxed wine Renmano –- a great alternative for a larger, more casual gathering.

OUR TOP PICK

To save money, consider the Renmano, a boxed wine from Australia. They’ve been doing it since the sixties and they still do it best. The Chardonnay we tried wasn’t half bad!

 

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