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What You Need to Know About White Wine

A great white wine can make or break an evening. Whether you're looking for something to sip on its own or to pair with an elaborate meal, it can be tough to narrow in on the right choice. Here's a basic overview of what you need to know about white wine.

What Makes a White Wine a White Wine

White wines and red wines are made a little differently. A red wine is fermented with the grapes' skin and seeds in place. White wines, on the other hand, are made after removing nearly everything but the grapes' juice. This leaves you with a beverage light in color and less intense in flavor. But don't confuse "less intense" with "less delicious!" White wines run the gamut from dry to sweet and include a huge variety of light, fruity flavors. They tend to pair well with fish, pork, poultry, and fruit.

White Wine Styles

White wine can generally be broken down into three major styles: light-bodied, full-bodied, and aromatic. Light-bodied white wines have a light flavor and pair well with a variety of foods. Full-bodied whites, on the other hand, have a rich, smooth flavor. Aromatic wines are, well, aromatic! They tend to be on the sweeter side and have a lovely, almost perfumed aroma.

Common White Wine Varieties:

Chardonnay: Made from the world's most planted white grape, Chardonnay is full-bodied and flavorful. Depending on where it's grown, chardonnay can have flavors of apple and pear, tropical fruits, citrus, melon, or peach. Oaked Chardonnay (wine aged in oak barrels before being bottled) tends to have a creamy, buttery flavor. Unoaked Chardonnay, on the other hand, tends to taste fresh and fruity. Try pairing chardonnay with chicken, quiche, or shrimp.

Riesling: An aromatic wine, you'll find both dry and sweet bottles of Reisling. Take a sip for flavors of green apple, citrus, and jasmine. A sweet Riesling pairs wonderfully with Asian and Southwest flavors (perfect for taco Tuesday!). Dryer wines go well with seafood and chicken.

Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied wine. It tends to have a fruity flavor with a high level of acidity. Sauv Blanc is grown all over the world, giving it a variety of flavors. You'll find wines with flavors of passion fruit or elderflower, as well as notes of grapefruit and peach. Sauvignon Blanc is lovely with trout, crab cakes, and Japanese meals. 

Pinot Grigio: If you like fresh, dry wines, you'll probably like Pinot Grigio. Light-bodied and moderately fruity, you'll find flavors like citrus and almonds every time you sip. Where pinot grigio really shines, though, is in its versatility. It's one of Italy's most popular everyday wines, so it's no surprise it pairs well with tomato-based dishes (including pizza). 

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