Cooler temperatures are on the horizon and often times we switch what’s in our glass from whites to reds. There are a world of lesser-known white wines to explore that can hold up to a big juicy steak as well as any bold, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. And still, some can be light in body with low alcohol, welcoming with the multitude of parties coming up. Try something different as the temperatures dip and let’s explore the world of interesting white wines.
Interesting White Wines
Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal and also the name of this wine. The name translates to green wine, or young wine, because it’s meant to be enjoyed soon after bottling to capture its fresh taste. It’s light-bodied with hints of fresh grass, green apples, melon, and lime. They have a surprising, yet subtle, effervescent pop in the mouth. It’s not as distinct as sparkling wine or Champagne, but you’ll notice a slight fizz. This wine is the perfect party starter because it is approachable, with little or no tannins, and has bright flavor characteristics, making it an all around crowdpleaser. At your next gathering, instead of a cocktail punch, greet your guests with Vinho Verde. It pairs well with salads, seafood, or on it’s own as an aperitif.
The Albariño grape is prominent in the Rías Baixas region of Spain and is also grown in Portugal, where it’s called Alvarinho. Expect a medium-bodied wine with a pleasant high-acidity made in an unoaked style. These wines are perfect to enjoy with food. You’ll taste citrus fruits, pear, green apple, and stone fruits. They hold up well to grilled fish, spicy dishes, and roasted vegetables.
This is atomatherapy in a glass. Floral aromas of roses and geraniums blended with hints of honeysuckle exude from this wine. Although its has a delicate sweet nose, this is a dry wine, light in body. This is a perfect sipper on it’s own, although it can hold up to food. Try it with Thai coconut curries and Chinese food. The Torrontés grape is produced only in Argentina making it special and one to add to your shopping list this season. Look for ones from the Mendoza or San Juan Mendoza regions of Argentina for crisper, fresher flavor profiles.
When you’re leaning towards something with a little more body and heft, try white Rioja. Made from the Viura grape in the Rioja region in Spain, this hearty white can hold up to anything on the table. It has two personalities, one crisp and meant to be enjoyed young, the other aged in oak lending more complex nutty and caramel flavors. Both are pleasantly dry, meaning not sweet, and the young ones have a zingy burst of citrus and a touch of that food pairing-friendly acid, winter citrus salads or white flaky fish. Surprise yourself and also try it with grilled tuna steak or other grilled meaty fish and vegetables.
If you’re still leaning towards Chardonnay, try a white Burgundy from France. This is the same Chardonnay grape grown in California where medium to full bodied wines with a rich buttery taste are made. Universally, the Chardonnay grape has a delicate flavor and in the U.S., it is often manipulated with oak aging. French Burgundy has the same notes of stone fruits–peaches, apricots, and nectarine, without the lush tropical fruits indicative in the American style. The French varietal also has traces of mineralogy from their old world vines, lending to a dry, crisp wine.