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Taste: Yellow citrus (Meyer lemon), yellow pomaceous fruits (yellow pear and apple), and tropical fruits (banana, pineapple), often cinnamon, butterscotch, and toasted caramel notes (from oak)
Style: Medium to full-bodied white wine
Description: Chardonnay is a dry full-bodied white wine that was planted in large quantities for the first time in France. When oak-aged, Chardonnay will have spicy, bourbon-y notes. Unoaked wines are lighter and zesty with apple and citrus flavors. Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy.
Food Pairing: lobster, crab, shrimp, chicken, pork, mushroom, French, cream sauces, soft cheeses such as triple cream brie, medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère
Sémillon: More middle weight, although often with oak as well, more citrus-driven and herbal aromatics
Viognier: Richer in body, with lots of perfumed, floral-driven aromatics, often oaked as well
[Chardonnay wine in a glass with taste profile and pronunciation]
Taste: Aggressively-citrus-driven (grapefruit pith), with some exotic fruits (honeydew melon, passion fruit, kiwi) and always an herbaceous quality (grass, mint, green pepper)
Style: Light-bodied to medium-bodied white wine
Description: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white grape first widely planted in France. Wines are tart, typically with herbal green fruit flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is a parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Food Pairing: fish, chicken, pork, veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, herb-crusted goat cheese, nutty cheeses such as Gruyère
Sauvignon Blanc Alternatives
Vermentino: from Italy is less herbacious, but with more appealing, bitter flavors (bitter almond)
Verdejo: from Spain is almost identical, although sometimes fuller in body
Grüner Veltliner: from Austria has more savory vegetable notes (arugula, turnip, white pepper)
[Sauvignon Blanc wine in a glass with taste profile and pronunciation]
“Pee-no Gree” (aka Pinot Grigio)
Taste: Delicate citrus (lime water, orange zest) and pomaceous fruits (apple skin, pear sauce), white floral notes, and cheese rind (from lees usage)
Style: Light-bodied White Wine
Description: Pinot Gris is a dry light-bodied white grape that is planted heavily in Italy, but also in France and Germany. Wines are light to middle-weight and easy drinking, often with some bitter flavor on the palate (bitter almond, quinine)
Food Pairing: Salad, delicate poached fish, light and mild cheeses
Pinot Gris Alternatives
Albariño: from Spain is similar, but has more acid and more citrus-driven aromatics (tangerine, orange juice) and floral aromatics
Soave: The grape is Garganega, but often more bruised and oxidized apple-y character, still relatively bitter
Muscadet: The grape is Melon de Bourgogne, and the wine is from France. It’s much higher in acid, but still with heavy lees use and relatively neutral flavor
[Pinot Gris wine in a glass with taste profile and pronunciation]
Taste: Citrus (kefir lime, lemon juice) and stone-fruit (white peach, nectarine) always feature prominently, although there are also usually floral and sweet herbal elements as well
Style: Floral and fruit-driven aromatic white that comes in variable sweetness. Some producers choose not to ferment all the grape sugar and therefore make the wine in an “off-dry” style.
Description: Always very high in acid, when made as a table wine Rieslings can be harmoniously sweet (sweet and sour) or dry (very acidic). The wine is polarizing because some people find dry styles too acidic and sweet styles too cloying, but sweetness is always a wine making decision and not inherent to the grape.
Food Pairing: chicken, pork, duck, turkey, cured meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, washed-rind cheeses and fondue
Muscat Blanc (aka Moscato): Less acidic with a much more aggressively floral flavor profile
Gewürztraminer: richer, with less acid and more broad texture, rose candy and lychee are typical aromatics
Torrontés: Related to Moscato, but always in a dry style, more full-bodied and bitter
Chenin Blanc: Also very acidic and made in sweet and dry styles, but much more savory with more apple-y, savory aromatics