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The Whites

We all love white wine for its refreshing and mild flavour…or is there more to its popularity?
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - May 7, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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The Whites

In the context of this article, “whites” has nothing to do with either race or laundry. Here, “whites” is just a swanky way of referring to white wines.

What’s the deal?

White wines are made from the juice and skin of green, gold or yellow coloured grapes, or just the juice (but not the skin) of certain types of red grapes. Though many kinds of grapes are used to make wine, only a select portion of these (“noble grapes” in the lingo) produce superior wines.

The grapes are put through a delicate and tightly controlled fermentation process, before wine is produced and bottled. Some types of wine need to be aged in barrels or vats before it is sold on the market.

In a nutshell, we are talking about a sophisticated process that produces a classy beverage, so don’t chug your wine the way you chug your regular booze!

The great whites

Three “big names” among white wines are Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Considered by many to be the best of its kind, Chardonnay is grown in almost all wine-producing countries. The result is a wine that is quite difficult to characterise in terms of flavours and aromas. Its style varies widely, and covers an impressive range of flavours from buttery, oak overtones to the refreshing apple, pear, melon and citrus. Its texture can vary from spritely and elegant to full-bodied and rich.

The next “great”, the Riesling, originated in Germany’s Rhein and Mosel river valleys, and nowadays exerts a firm foothold in the white wine industry. Riesling tends to be highly aromatic, exhibiting the fruity flavours of apple, pear and peach at the forefront, while simultaneously exuding floral undertones in the background. This varietal is considered by some to be the crème de la crème of white wines, and consequently some connoisseurs lament the tarnishing of the Riesling name through association with lesser counterparts.

The Sauvignon Blanc, a varietal that originated in the Loire Valley of France, usually takes the form of a dry white wine with distinctive herbaceous qualities. Typically sporting a light to medium-bodied texture with noticeable astringency, this family of wines yields a plethora of flavours that includes herbal, vegetable, grassy and mineral tastes. More than the other two, the Sauvignon Blanc is a wine for the adventurous.

The others

There are, of course, many other types of white wine. At the end of the day, what really matters is your personal preference. In this “flat” world of equality, if you insist that your regular can of mass-produced lager is way cooler than any Chardonnay or Riesling, who can say that you’re wrong? Then again, how do you prove that you’re right?


Keeping score on your beer