Introductory to White Wines

Taylor Simpson
January 10, 2022 | Taylor Simpson

Introductory to White Wines

In the world of wine, there are many different kinds to choose from. From light and fruity reds to dry whites or sweet dessert wines like sparkling wine! But what is white? White wines are a great way to experience new flavors. They're typically less acidic and full in body, making them perfect for warm weather or as an addition to more robust reds on ice-cold nights!

Keep reading below so you can learn all the basics before your next wine tasting adventure or when wine aisle exploring.

White Wine 101

White wine is made from fermented grape juice and is absent of seeds or stems. The grapes used to create white wine must have a pale color before fermentation begins indicating that they haven’t ripened fully before they were picked. Most grapes are fermented skinless. Some white wine grapes will be fermented when they are darker in color, but when the skin is removed, they still possess the whiteness underneath. The color of the original grapes, and the fermenting process, gives each wine its unique color and qualities.

White Wine Storage

White wine can last up to 12 months if stored in a cool location away from light before it starts to degrade, but most agree that it is best to not go beyond six months with a bottle of white wine. Opened bottles have an expiration date that can vary from a few days to a month depending on the climate.

A good way to preserve the freshness of your wine is to store it in the fridge, so you can enjoy it chilled without worrying if it's still good. A white wine should not be served at any temperature lower than 40°F (5°C)

White Wine Serving Tips

Consuming white wine within a few days after opening is best. To achieve the true flavor of a white wine, it should be poured in a 14-ounce white wine glass shortly before drinking. A larger capacity glass can alter the taste of the wine. A modified version of the wine glass is the copita, which can hold up to 18 ounces making it ideal for wine tasting without having to refill the glass.

A white wine will taste different when served at warmer temperatures than when served chilled. Preserve its flavor by serving it slightly chilled. A useful trick to maintain a temperature around 50°F (10°C) is by adding ice cubes made from frozen grapes to the glass.

Types of White Wine

The variety of white grapes knows no bounds. There are hundreds of white wine options. Navigating them all is an adventure in and of itself. To help start you on your journey, we have narrowed down your choices to the most common white wines you are most likely to encounter.

Light Dry
  • Pinot Grigio. Known for its poignant acidity and fruity flavor. Popular party wine since it pairs with many options.
  • Chablis. A white wine favorite for palates that enjoy citrusy, salty flavors.
  • Chenin Blanc. High acidity makes this white wine extremely versatile leading to a diversity of styles (sparkling, lean/dry, aromatic/off dry, and golden nectar).
Bold Dry
  • Chardonnay. The world’s most popular white wine with a varied taste profile that is determined by the growing region and aging practice.
  • Viognier. With its southern France roots, it is known for its fragrant floral notes and creamy texture.
  • Trebbiano. Pairs well with various foods due to its high acidity and food-balancing properties.
Sweet White Wine
  • Riesling. Popular white wine that can go from very sweet to off-dry (slightly sweet). Known as one of the most versatile food wines available.
  • Gewürztraminer. Lesser known, affordable, and aromatic white wine.
  • Moscato. Characterized by its sweet orange notes and aromatic flavors, this white wine has a fizzy, low alcohol content that is often paired with desserts and appetizers.
Herbaceous White Wine
  • Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp, dry, and fruity.
  • Grüner Veltliner. Tastes of nuts, white pepper, herbs, and spices.
  • Vinho Verde. Made from a combination of six grapes, this white wine is fizzy with a zesty acidity.
White Wine Pairings

White wines vary from dry to sweet and may be aromatic. Different types pair better with one food over another. Selecting the right wine pairing with your dishes accentuates flavors.

  • Rich white. This category of wines includes Chardonnay and pairs well with soft cheeses, fish, and white meat.
  • Sweet white. Sweet white wines include your Moscato and Riesling options. These pair well with both hard and soft cheeses, sweets, and cured meats.
  • Dry white. Dry white wines (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc) pair best with white fish such as halibut and vegetables. They are popular with roasted carrots/zucchini.

As one of the largest wineries in Northern Michigan, Good Harbor Vineyards offers a wide selection of wine including many whites at varying price points to suit every palate and predilection. Family-owned and operated, our award-winning wines have demonstrated quality and uniqueness second to none for over four decades. Wherever you find yourself in your wine journey, we can mentor you with our onsite wine tasting and guides. Call 231-256-7165 to learn more and to schedule a self-guided tour of our facility.


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