White Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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If you're new to the world of wine, it may surprise you know to that white wines may be pressed from even the darkest red grapes. The juice of all grapes, whether they're Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, runs clear. What gives any wine its color is the amount of time that the juice is allowed to remain in contact with the expelled skins.

That said, it is true that most white wines are made from white, or pale green grapes. But the lack of red isn't the only thing that keeps a white different from a red wine. As about-to-be-red wines sit among the expelled skins, they begin to develop a higher level of "tannins." Tannins are acids which help red wines age well. Tannins, in young red wines, have a "mouth drying" astringency. This astringency fades as the red wine ages.

So, white wines then, are wines which did not spend any length of time in contact with their skins after pressing, and which therefore have a lower tannin count. This lower tannin count is what makes whites more "friendly" to new wine drinkers. This also helps to explain why whites rarely age as well as reds.

Finding that Sauvignon Blanc in the French Wine Shop

In the United States, Australia, New Zealand and other "New World" wine-making countries, the wine variety is clearly stated on the bottle's label. Old World (i.e. European) winemakers instead list the region in which the wine was made. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc is labeled as such by New World winemakers; the French Sauvignon Blanc is called Pouilly Fume or Sancerre. The most popular white wine grape in the world, the Chardonnay, is easily identified by New World winemakers; Old World examples include Chablis and other White Burgundy.


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