What is White Wine?
White wine is made from the fermented pulp of the uncoloured flesh of black or white grapes. The most well know white wine grape varietal include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Typically, white wine doesn’t cellar as long as red wines but at the top end they are still able to command extraordinary prices at auction.
Common White Wine styles
There are many types of white wine but the most common style is dry white wine. To achieve this, winemakers allow fermentation to turn all of the sugars into alcohol. The result is lip-smacking white wine. Crisp, clean and dry white wines are made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The Margaret River region of Western Australia often blends Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon to create the region’s famous Classic Dry White wine styles.
The sweetness, or dryness, of white wine is in the hands of the winemaker. If the all the sugar is fermented into alcohol, the wine will be dry. However, prior to this, the winemaker can stop the fermentation process once the wine has achieved the desired level of sweetness.
Late harvesting of the grape is a method created to produce sweet and sticky white dessert wines. As the sugars have fully developed, additional time in the sun evaporates the water content and concentrates the flavours. The grapes are then pressed for fermentation and aging.
Pairing food with White Wine
White wine is traditionally served with white meat. As there is far more to wine than colour, more can be gained by focusing on the body, intensity and palate of the wine. A roast chicken is a good example of a common white meat for a meal. While tradition would insist a white wine should be served, a Rosé or lighter red wines would suit. When it comes to red meats, however, white wines tend to struggle.
The rise of food and wine in Australia reaches its peak when Clare Valley Rieslings meet Asian food. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, sparkling whites and dessert wines can pair with an immense range of food from freshly shucked oysters to terrine or even lemon meringue pie.
Notable White Wine regions
Bordeaux is world famous for its prestigious red wines but the region is also the home of Sauternes wines and Château d'Yquem. Among the best sweet white producers in the region, Château d'Yquem is the only Château to be unique accolade Premier Cru Supérieur or ‘Superior First Growth.’
Clare Valley, Australia
The Clare Valley wine region in South Australia produces Riesling wines that have put Australian white wines on the international stage. For some time, other Australian wines appeared to be the poor cousins of the blockbuster reds from the Barossa Valley. Rieslings from the Clare Valley have added depth to the Australian winemaking reputation.
Hunter Valley, Australia
Semillon from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales is one of the jewels of Australian wine. The unique style is not only great among Australian wines but also among the wines of the world. The practice of early harvest means that the sugars don’t have time to fully develop. Early bottling, as well as the absence of oak, means the acidity of the grapes is retained in the wine.
The high acidity makes younger Hunter Valley Semillon wines an austere, crisp, clear, citrus-driven style. With age, they develop rich, honeyed flavours as well as very welcoming buttered toast characters. Owing to the acidity, Hunter Valley Semillons can cellar for decades to develop even further.
The future of White Wine
The future is bright for Australian white wine. Rieslings from the Clare Valley as well as Western Australian classic dry whites are all making an impact internationally. With Australia’s culture of innovation in wine, the industry will continue to grow and challenge international markets and competitors.