Shades of White

The “blanc” in vin blanc or white wine can mean “clear” instead of “white,” according to some French dictionaries. Specifically, white wines come in varying degrees of yellow, yellow-green, and gold.

White wine can come from grapes of any color, although most white wines are made from green or yellow grapes. The production of most white wines often exclude the fruit’s skins, hence the relative lack of color compared to red wines that use both pulp and skin.

No skin in the fermentation process means little astringency and higher acidity compared to red wines, as well as differences in fruit flavors and structure. The type of fruit notes and the aspects of a wine that contribute to overall mouthfeel help classify the different types of white wine.

Light white wines can range from virtually colorless to a pale yellow green. Aromas of grapefruit, lemon, and other citrus fruits - as well as floral notes such as violet and honeysuckle - are present, These wines can also hint of grass, bell pepper, and other herbaceous notes. Most light white wines taste best chilled. Pair a refreshing light white like the Mica with shrimp toast.

Most white wines are medium-bodied. The floral notes also found in light whites are more distinct in medium white wines. Peach, apple, and other orchard or white fruit notes are part of the aromatic palette. These white wines also showcase rounder, silkier flavors, with notes of toast or honey. Serve a zingy medium white wine like the Chateau de Villeneuve White alongside smoked fish and fresh, herbed salads.

Full-bodied white wines are often mellower than light and medium white wines. Oak aging can add walnut, almond, and other woodsy, nutty accents to these long-maturing wines, while bestowing scents of butter, caramel, and vanilla. Lychee, pineapple, and other tropical fruits flavors are easily discernible. The tannins in the oak barrels also lend intensity and structure to these boldest of white wines. A brusque white like the Vin Sec Le Portail works well with cold cuts and assorted cheeses.

Predicting the flavor of white wines can be challenging, although the intensity of color can hint at the style and strengths of each. Relish any of these vibrant wines as aperitif, mid-day refreshment, or partnered with lighter courses and desserts.

See our shades of white.

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