Are you a white wine drinker? I sure am! I am always amazed when I meet people and they tell me that they don’t drink white wine. “Why?” Is what I always ask and I usually get an answer like, “I just prefer red wine,” or, “I haven’t found any whites I like.” I then usually continue probing and finding what kind of red wines they like and if they’ve experimented a lot with trying various white wines. Many times I am told, “Well, I really don’t like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.” I won’t go on with how the conversation continues, but I can get them to listen and understand there are so many cool white wines (pun intended).
When I was single and dating, I heard this often from men on dates. Jokingly I’d say to myself, “OK, check please!” But if I liked the guy and we kept dating, I’d open them up to awesome white wines and how diverse they are. Matter of fact, they can be a great “cocktail” before diving into red wines with dinner. I’m here to tell you that I changed the minds of many of the guys I dated. I remember one always saying, “I never drank white wine until I met you.”
I’m now married and my husband loves white wines. Interestingly, we drink more white than red! There are so many different varietals and styles, just like red wine. My personal preference is crisp whites with high acidity but when the weather gets cold, these are my go-to whites. The beauty of these varietals is that they pair well with heartier foods and you can find some stunning values!
Brut Rosé de Saignée Champagne
I like to say this is the Champagne for red wine drinkers because of its rich flavors, full-body, and dark rose color. However, everyone can enjoy this style and should.
Talk about a complex white wine, Gewürtraminer is exotic and intriguing. “Gewurz” in German means spicy, so that is what you are first greeted with after noticing the darker colored white wine. They tend to be lower in acidity, so think richer cheeses when it comes to pairing. I eat a lot of Indian food and this grape is one of the best to pair with the multiple flavors you get in curry.
I tend to drink Grüner year-round because I just love it, but it does make for a great white when the temps dip. Grüner is almost exclusively grown in Austria, has vibrant acidity and Sauvignon Blanc like flavors, but also with sexy herbaceous characteristics.
Fiano di Avellino
A richer white wine that hails from Campagnia boasting with layers of pears, hazelnuts, and herbs. White pizza with mushrooms? Rosemary Chicken? Here’s your wine.
Vouvray is actually the region in France, but the wine is named after it. The grape is Chenin Blanc and one of the few white wines that can age for a number of years. Vouvray is versatile on the dinner table – it can stand up to rich foods with mushrooms and even those green veggies.
I’m listing this as a single varietal (it’s commonly blended in the Southern Rhône) because there are some excellent California producers that do a straight Roussanne. Not a fan of Chardonnay? Give this varietal a try. It has body like Chardonnay but it doesn’t carry the oak and butter that you typically get from CA Chardonnay. Fruit flavors tend to be more tropical than tree fruits.
The white blends from the Rhône valley are some of the best for cooler temps. They are rich, complex, and can dance on the dinner table alongside those savory dishes. Common grape blends are Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Bourboulanc, and Clairette.
This might be a new one for you! This is the grape from the region of Savoie along the Swiss border of France. It is the apres-ski wine served up in all the ski chalets of this region, so it’s no wonder it’s a great winter white! Fruity (not sweet), floral, and flinty, this is a fun cocktail wine to offer at your holiday parties!
I rarely ever drink Chardonnay (unless it’s in Champagne) but find myself drinking more in the winter. My preference is Burgundies, Chablis, and Chardonnays from Piedmont, however, there are some excellent ones from Washington state and the Santa Barbara wine region in CA. The ones from Napa typically have a lot of oak and butter, so try these regions if that style isn’t your “jam.”