Learn about white wine — the range of styles, how it’s made and more ...
What are the types and styles of white wine?
From lean and crisp to oaky and buttery, white wine comes in an array of styles and is produced in almost every wine region of the world. Although only about 25 pale-skinned grapes make the majority of the white wine produced, hundreds of native varieties are important not only to local culture, but to the diversity of the global wine world. White wine styles range from a simple and refreshing aperitif to a robust accompaniment to a hearty meal and some of the best can age for decades.
How is white wine made?
To preserve freshness, aromatics and primary fruit flavors, white wines are often fermented at cooler temperatures than reds. Unlike red winemaking, the colorless juice is not typically left in contact with the grape skins during the fermentation process. The winemaker has the choice to encourage or prevent malolactic fermentation, which turns the tart acidity of grape juice into the softer, creamier flavors of wine. Another important decision is whether and how to use oak—the barrels’ age, provenance and time holding the wine all help to determine the final style, in terms of both flavor and texture.
What gives white wine its color?
White wines can vary in color from nearly clear lemon-green to medium gold to pale orange or almost light brown, depending on grape variety, winemaking methods and age.
How do you serve white wine?
Ideally for storing white wine in any long-term sense, it should be at cellar temperature, about 55F. For serving, cool white wine down to about 45F to 55F. (Most refrigerators are colder than this.) As for drinking white wines, the best white wine glasses have a stem and a narrow bowl large enough to allow swirling without spilling.
How long does white wine last?
Opened, a bottle of white wine will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of days to a week, maybe longer. Unopened, white wines stay good for one year to, in some cases, several decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning to strategically store white wine, seek the advice of a wine professional.
Fisher Vineyards Mountain Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2013Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
Scholium Project The Sylphs Chardonnay 2013Chardonnay from Napa Valley, California