The Ultimate White Wine Guide: Mastering Pairing, Storing and Serving

Ah, white wine – the liquid sunshine in a glass that can brighten any occasion. But what exactly is it? In the simplest terms, white wine is made from the fermentation of white or green grapes, with the skins removed before the process begins. This gives it its signature light colour and delicate flavour profile. Unlike red wine, which gets its hue from leaving the grape skins in during fermentation, white wine is all about purity and clarity.

How is white wine made?

Grapes are harvested at peak ripeness, by hand or machine, depending on the producer's preference and the terrain.

Unlike red wine, white wine grapes are pressed immediately after harvest, minimising skin contact to produce a lighter wine with delicate flavours.

Grape juice undergoes fermentation: in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels with added yeast, converting sugars to alcohol.

Temperature Control is an important element: maintaining cool temperatures preserves the wine's aroma and freshness. Some white wines, like Chardonnay, may undergo a secondary fermentation for a creamier texture.

Many white wines are aged in oak barrels, and winemakers choose barrels based on desired flavour profiles, with newer barrels providing pronounced oak flavours.

  • Loire Valley, France

    Stretching along the Loire River, this picturesque region is home to a diverse array of white wine styles. From the steely acidity of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé to the lusciously sweet wines of Coteaux du Layon, the Loire Valley offers something for every palate preference.

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  • Burgundy, France

    Renowned for its exquisite Chardonnay, Burgundy captivates with its terroir-driven wines that reflect the nuances of its diverse appellations. From the crisp minerality of Chablis to the opulent richness of Meursault, Burgundy's white wines embody complexity, and finesse.

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  • Marlborough, New Zealand

    New Zealand's Sauvignon Blanc has taken the world by storm, and Marlborough is the epicenter of this success. Known for its bright, aromatic wines with notes of gooseberry, passion fruit, and tropical fruits, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing and food-friendly choice.

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  • Western Cape, South Africa

    South Africa's Western Cape region boasts a diverse range of white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more tropical and herbal than its New Zealand counterpart, while Chenin Blanc offers a wide spectrum of styles, from dry to sweet.

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  • pfalz, germany

    Germany's Pfalz region is renowned for its Riesling, a grape that thrives in the cool climate. Here, Riesling produces a wide range of styles, from dry and mineral-driven to sweeter and off-dry expressions. Pfalz also produces excellent Pinot Gris and Silvaner wines.

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Food pairing

Fresh Salads

Crisp, vibrant white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner are perfect partners for fresh salads with citrus vinaigrettes or tangy goat cheese.

Light Seafood

Delicate white fish like sole or cod, as well as shellfish such as prawns, scallops, and oysters, pair beautifully with unoaked white wines like Chablis or Picpoul.

Creamy Pasta

Rich, creamy pasta dishes, whether with a white sauce or carbonara, find harmony with fuller-bodied white wines like Chardonnay or Viognier, whose richness complements the dish's creaminess.

Grilled Fish

Whether it's salmon, trout, or halibut, grilled fish dishes shine alongside crisp, aromatic white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño, whose zesty acidity cuts
through the fish's natural oils.

Shellfish

From buttery lobster and sweet crab to briny oysters and succulent prawns, shellfish dishes find their perfect partner in minerally white wines like Chablis or Sancerre, whose purity of fruit enhances the seafood's natural sweetness. Riesling is also a great match for crab and shrimp.

Sushi and Sashimi

The delicate flavours and textures of sushi and sashimi call for equally delicate white wines like Pinot Grigio or Grüner Veltliner, whose subtle fruitiness and crisp acidity complement the clean, umami-rich flavours of raw fish.

Roast Chicken

Whether it's a classic roast chicken with herbs or a crispy-skinned rotisserie bird, Chardonnay is the go-to choice, its richness and texture enhancing the savoury flavours of the chicken while its acidity cuts through any fatty richness.

Chicken Piccata

The tangy, lemony flavours of chicken piccata find harmony with crisp, citrus-driven white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, whose acidity complements the dish's brightness.

Chicken Alfredo

The creamy richness of chicken Alfredo calls for a white wine with enough acidity to cut through the sauce's richness. Opt for a medium-bodied Chardonnay or Viognier, whose ripe fruit flavours and subtle oakiness enhance the dish's creamy texture.

white wine cheat sheet

  • temperature

    Keep white wine in a cool, dark place, ideally between 7°C to 18°C, to prevent accelerated aging and spoilage from temperature fluctuations.

  • Humidity

    Maintain 50% to 70% relative humidity to preserve cork integrity, preventing air infiltration and preserving freshness.

  • Light

    Shield white wine from direct sunlight and UV rays to prevent degradation and off-flavours. Store bottles horizontally or in a wine rack to keep corks moist and inhibit oxidation.

  • Vibration

    Minimise exposure to vibrations to avoid disturbing wine sediment and aging processes. Avoid storing near appliances or high-traffic areas.

  • Crisp & Light-bodied Whites

    E.g., Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio: serve these wines chilled between 7°C to 10°C. Chilling preserves their refreshing acidity and fruitiness without masking their delicate nuances.

  • Medium to Full-bodied Whites

    E.g., Chardonnay, Viognier: these wines benefit from slightly warmer temperatures, typically between 10°C to 13°C. Serving them slightly warmer allows their complex aromas and textures to shine through.

  • Sweet & Dessert Whites

    E.g., Riesling, Sauternes: serve well chilled at 4°C to 7°C to balance sweetness and acidity. Chilling also helps to highlight their vibrant fruit flavours and prevent cloying sweetness.

  • While decanting is often associated with red wine, certain white wines can also benefit from aeration to enhance their aromas and flavours.

  • Young and Full-bodied Whites

    White wines like oaked Chardonnay or aged white Bordeaux can benefit from decanting to soften tannins and allow complex flavours to develop. Pour the wine into a decanter and let it breathe for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

  • Aged Whites

    Vintage white wines with sediment or bottle age may benefit from decanting to separate the wine from any solids and allow it to open up. Pour the wine slowly and carefully to avoid disturbing the sediment, then let it sit in the decanter for an hour or more before serving.

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