If you’ve ever sat in a restaurant and tried to make sense of the wine list without asking the waiter a bunch of stupid questions, this article is for you. You don’t have to know the details about where each wine comes from, what it’s made of, or even what it specifically tastes like to get an idea about if you’ll like it or not. Most types of white wines are made with a few different types of grapes, and there are only a handful of white wines that are commonly available in restaurants and stores. Once you know this, you only have to match the flavor you like with the name or description of the wine itself.
First, let’s get familiar with a few of the common terms used to describe the taste of white wines. Some of these are a little out there, so just keep it together and remember we’re talking about wine:
Now that you’re a better little versed on how to speak the language of wine, it’s time you got introduced to your main choices. Here are the most common types of white wines:
Most Chardonnay wines have very citrusy flavors. You’ll commonly get a taste of green apple or lemon with these. They are ordinarily dry, crisp wines with some buttery flavor and a hint of vanilla depending on where they were made.
You’ll typically find these wines to have very dry and acidic flavors. A lot of the European Pinor Grigios are more acidic that American or Australian varieties, which will have more fruity aromas and flavors if you like that sort of thing.
A good quality Sauvignon Blanc will have a strong acid finish and very bright aromas of fruit. Usually the taste will be very fruity with a range of anywhere from sour, acidic fruits like lemon, lime, or green apple to deliciously sweet tropical fruits such as bananas, melons, and mangos.
These can sometimes be called dessert wines because they always have a very fruity flavor and more often than not will be very sweet as well. Moscato doesn’t always taste great with a meal because of its strong and defined flavor, but if you just want a glass of something sweet to sip on this is a good companion for you.
Reisling can be similar to Chardonnay, but it is lighter and not as dry. Unfortunately it’s hard to identify any typical flavors in a Reisling because they vary a lot depending on where it came from. Everyone who makes a Reisling does something different with it, so read the label to decide if the flavors sound nice to you. The only thing to keep in mind is that it should smell a bit of green apples and should taste very fresh.
The distinct fig characteristic of this wine is what many people like about it. They are dry wines without much acid and with a fruity aroma. A lot of people mix this with a nice Sauvignon Blanc to make a sweet, fruity, rich wine.
Location makes a big difference in what you’ll taste when you open up a bottle of this wine. Generally speaking, Gewurztraminer is dry, but not crisp like other dry white wines usually are. Some of the most famous varieties come from Germany and have a sweeter taste with hints of floral or spicy flavors.
The peachy flavor of this wine is what most people seek when they buy it. It has to be made with perfectly ripened grapes or else it turns out a bit sour and unpleasant. Brands from the USA and Australia tend to have a nice peach taste and a strongly fruity and floral aroma.
White wine can be a lot of fun because you have room to experiment to find out what you like and what you don’t. If you read wine labels, you’ll see they all use similar wine language words to describe their wines. Once you find a wine you like, see how it’s described and try to pick other wines with similar adjectives. Try a wine from each category to taste the different characteristics for yourself!