Made famous by writers, poets and painters, white wine is drank especially as an aperitif, during meals or with desserts. It is also useful in the kitchen; thanks to its acidity, aromas and tendency to make meat tender, it is used to deglaze and in the preparation of many dishes. Do you enjoy white wine and would like to find out more about how it is produced and which are the best words to describe it? This article is for you!
How is white wine produced?
White wine is obtained from the alcoholic fermentation of the must of white grapes or black-skinned grapes with non-coloured pulp. During the wine making process it is subject to specific processes that maintain its characteristic transparent yellow colour. Three factors are accountable for white wine varieties: the great diversity of grapes, wine making processes and quantity of residual sugar present in the wine.
White wine is made mainly with green or yellow grapes, which are abundant in all regions in which vines are cultivated. Some grape varieties, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon or Riesling, are very well known but others are less famous because they are used together with other varieties to produce wines such as Tokaji, Sherry and Sauternes, all made by combining different grapes. Wine makers may use grapes from coloured-skin grapes, as long as when the pulp is separated from the juice it is not coloured. This is the case of champagne, which is produced using also black Pinot grapes.
Among the many different white wines, dry wine is the most common: it can be more or less aromatic and acidulous, and it is produced by fermenting must completely, i.e. braking down all sugars and converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. On the other hand, to produce sweet, amabile or liqueur wines, wine makes apply the technique of interrupting fermentation before all sugars in the grapes are broken down and converted into alcohol.
How can a white wine be described?
Wine is commonly associated with conviviality and joy because it is always a pleasure to drink, especially when you are in good company! But… are you sure you know how to describe a wine? And what are its characteristics? We often find ourselves sipping a fine glass of wine without knowing exactly what we are drinking, because the label says “harmonious”, “aggressive” or “perlage”. As we have been exploring the world of white wine, now let’s have a look at the words used to describe it.
Harmonious: when a wine appears to offer a perfect balance; its components, mainly sweet, acid and bitter, are proportionate and in harmony.
Dry: when sugars in grapes have been completely broken down and converted into alcohol during fermentation or are present in very low levels and the taste of sugar is unperceivable.
Sweet: when the level of sugar is over 50 g per litre and the taste of sugar is predominant.
Hard: a non-harmonious wine lacking in softness, high in tannins and acidity.
Bone dry: describes a dry wine that leaves a clean taste in the mouth.
Sparkling: a wine containing carbon dioxide, as natural fermentation was interrupted before it was fully completed.
Fruity: a pleasant feeling of fresh fruit perceived in the nose and in the mouth.
Aromatic: the smell of a wine that withholds the aroma of its grapes. For example: Moscato, Malvasia and Gewürztraminer.
Fragrant: expresses an intense fresh, fruity and floral feeling. An adjective that can be used to describe both the smell and the taste of a wine.
Perlage: indicates the succession of bubbles, created by carbon dioxide, that appear and raise to the top of the flute when pouring sparkling wine. A fine and persistent perlage is a sign of good quality.