Whether you're looking for a bottle to enjoy with dinner tonight, or want to present the wine aficionado in your life with a great vintage, we offer a look at some of the world's key wine regions, the different types of wine, pairing wine with food, and a handy wine terminology guide. Cheers!
"Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others."
- Samuel Johnson
White wine can actually be made from white or black grapes, as all grape juice is initially colorless. WIth the exception of a few wines, many of them sparkling, however, most whites are produced from white grapes.
White wine should be served chilled, but not ice cold, which can mask many of the flavors present. Styles range from very dry to sweet, depending on the grapes used.
Grapes used to make white wine
A well-known variety, and a good introduction to white wine. Styles range from light and fresh, to heavily oaked, buttery, tropical-fruit-flavored wines.
[SHEN'N BLAHNK] -- This grape is found in a range of wines including dry and sharp, sparkling, medium and extra-sweet wines. Mature examples have a nutty, honeyed flavor. A native of France's Loire Valley, this grape is currently South Africa's most planted grape, and is often blended with other grapes to make table wines.
[geh-VERTS-trah-mee-ner] -- At its best, it produces a floral and refreshing wine with crisp acidity that pairs well with spicy dishes. When left for late harvest, it's uncommonly rich and complex, a tremendous dessert wine. A number of quality Gewürztraminers come from France's Alsace region.
[MUSS-kat] -- A versatile grape used in sparkling, white and fortified wines. The wine actually smells of the grape itself. Muscats vary from rich and sweet to light, floral and dry.
[REES-ling] -- Best known from Germany, Rieslings range from dry, light and apple crisp to rich, sweet and honey-flavored. Most pair well with food. Good, inexpensive Rieslings are rare.
[SO-vin-yon BLAHNK] -- This aromatic grape is grown in a number of regions in France and very successfully in New Zealand as well. Also known as Fumé Blanc in the U.S., it has a delightful fresh, tangy style with distinctive flavors of gooseberries, elderflower and asparagus. Lighter than Chardonnay, this wine is often seen as a distant second. But it's refreshing, is typically cheaper than Chardonnay, and pairs well with many foods, making it well worth trying.
[SEM-ih-yon] -- Often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, wines from this grape range from dry, light, and lemon-flavored to sweet, with aromas of barley sugar and peaches. Australia's Hunter Valley produces a wine made exclusively with Sémillon grapes, and a few wineries save it for good late-harvest wine.