Wine Varieties

White Wine

White wine is made from the fermented pulp of the uncoloured flesh of black or white grapes. Learn how it's made, popular food pairings, top regions &…

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.

The prestigious white wines of France are the most sought after wines in the world. 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.

Styles of white wine

There are many types of white wine but the most common style is dry white wine. To achieve this, winemakers allow fermentation to turn the all of the sugars into alcohol. The result is lip-smacking white wine. Sauvignon Blanc grapes make crisp, clean dry white wines. 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.

White dessert wines are sweet and sticky. One method for creating this style of wine involves late harvesting of the grape. 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.

White Wine Varieties

How Champagne is made

Sparkling wine is made using several different methods. The most-well known method is that used by Champagne producers otherwise known as méthode champenoise. This method used outside of the controlled region is called méthode traditionnelle or ‘traditional method.’ Champagne is fermented twice. After the first fermentation, the wine is bottled and a secondary fermentation takes place by adding yeast and sugar.

The Champagne bottles are stored with the necks pointing down at an angle. Bottles are turned over time to let the lees (non-soluble particles in the wine) settle in the neck. Once the lees have settled in the neck, the bottle is frozen and the cap removed. The pressure in the bottle pushes the frozen lees out and the clear Champagne is corked.

Pairing food with white wine

Traditional rules for pairing wine and food dictated that white wine should be 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.

As strict adherence to wine pairing rules has faded, the Australian diet has become more diverse. The explosion of the foodie scene and the high-level of culinary achievement is a welcome product of the diversity in Australian culture. At the same time, the international reputation of Australian wine has steadily improved thanks to the ambition and passion of winemakers across all wine growing regions. 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 wines

Champagne is the most famous wine in the world. Synonymous with celebration and luxury, it is the stuff of history and legend. The Champagne wine style has been imitated and honoured in most regions where white wine is produced. House of Arras in Tasmania produces some of the most exciting sparkling white wines in Australia.

Bordeaux is famous the world over 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.’

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.

Australia’s white wine offerings had been simple, accessible wines. Answering consumer demands, Western Australia produced fresh and accessible Classic Dry White wines. Houghton Wines, a pioneer in this market, remains one of the most popular producers of this style.

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, Hunter Valley Semillons 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.

To add further depth to Australia’s winemaking reputation, Tasmanian sparkling wine producer House of Arras has issued a challenge to Champagnes in Australia with prestigious high-quality sparkling wine.

White Wine Region

White wine in Australia

The future is bright for Australian white wine. Rieslings from the Clare Valley and sparkling whites from Tasmania as well as Western Australian Classic Dry Whites all make an impact internationally. With Australia’s culture of innovation in wine, the industry will continue to grow and challenge international markets and competitors.