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A beginner’s guide to white wine by Jürg Widmer Probst

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We’re huge fans of white wine here. What could be better than a fresh, zesty glass of top notch Pinot Grigio on a hot summer’s day? White wine can be complex and subtle, or as rich, complex and fruity as their red counterparts.

But it can also be hard to know where to start – the choice of grapes and variety of producers is almost endless.

So, here is our quick guide to white wine for beginners.

The basics

There are a huge amount of white wine grape varieties, but Chardonnay is by far the most common. Originally from France, this variety delivers a real range of tastes. From dry, un-oaked Chablis to the fuller flavoured Californian and Australian wines, this is a truly versatile grape variety.

In our view, one of the best recent whites based on this grape is the Mi Sueño ‘Los Carneros’ Chardonnay (2015), out of the Napa Valley, California. With hints of pear and vanilla, it is just perfect for a long, warm summer evening on the terrace.

Pinot Grigio grapes meanwhile produce a crisp wine with a citrusy flavour that is beautifully refreshing. There are countless producers, many of whom are high quality, but one of our favourites has to be the Bellarine Bay Pinot Grigio (2018) from South Eastern Australia. It’s crisp and refreshing and exactly everything that a good Pinot should be.

Finally, Sauvignon Blanc grapes are very popular with New World white wine producers, and can produce a wonderfully fruity flavour profile. Our top pick? It has to be the Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc (2016) from South Africa. This is a white wine that’s full of life – a perfect blend of apple and sweet fruit flavours. Just gorgeous.

Choose your white wine taste experience

What are you looking for in a white wine? Something bold, or something light? Something with a citrusy feel, or a dryer taste?

As a rough guide, the most common white wines can be divided up in a few different ways:

  • For a light and zesty experience, try a chablis, a chenin blanc, a pinot grigio or a pinot blanc.
  • For something a little bolder, we recommend a white rioja, or a chardonnay. Marsanne is also beautiful.
  • And if you want a white wine to go with your sweet dessert, then try a madeira, or even an ice wine. This wine is produced when the grapes are actually frozen on the vine and then pressed.

This last one is an acquired taste, but as with all white wines, it’s well worth experimenting with!

Jürg Widmer Probst

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