My Top 3: White Wines
Wine is sunlight, held together by water. - Galileo
My Top 3 is a weekly post where I countdown three things I love in a random category. This week, we’re counting down my top three white wines.
I used to be solely a red wine drinker. If it wasn’t cabernet or merlot, I didn’t let it in my glass. About a decade ago, that changed. Thank goodness!
White wines are amazing. They can be light, they can be buttery; they can be tangy and acidic or sweet and mellow. It’s possible I drink more white wine now than I do red. There’s something about pouring a class of white wine that makes any ordinary weekday feel a bit more like vacation.
I also find that, unlike red wines, the flavors evolve a bit more as the wine moves from chilled to room temperature. This lets the tasting notes change over time and it’s fun to drink the transition.
Quick note - I am not including sparkling wines on this list. That’s a My Top 3 for another time.
First, I have to admit that part of the reason sauvignon blanc makes this list is because I like saying it. I always feel so sophisticated and mature. But, I also really like this variety of white wine. It’s one of the most refreshing flavors varietals available. Sauvignon blanc is usually citrus or light fruit forward. It’s delicate on the tongue and has a clean mouthfeel. The nose can be rather crisp with hints of grass and bell pepper.
This is not a heavy wine which makes it perfect to drink chilled on the patio. I prefer this wine on the colder side, but it also doesn’t lose much when it comes to room temperature. This is an easy wine to drink and pairs well with many foods. I like it with everything from cheese and crackers to spicy shrimp tacos. Plus, if you like to Instagram your beverages, the lighter color of this wine looks great in sunset pictures.
When it comes to chardonnay, there seems to be a sharp divide between those who like them oaked or unoaked. While I will happily drink both, I fall firmly in the oaked camp. I like chardonnay because it really picks up the flavors of the barrel. New oak, neutral oak, French oak, American oak - I don’t care, I just want to taste hints of the wood when I drink a chardonnay.
The oak barrel also gives the second thing I love about this grape - a buttery mouthfeel. This is a wine that sits with you. It’s smooth but also creamy. The taste of chardonnay is more subtle. It’s mellow with hints of vanilla and pastry. The fruit notes are softer. The nose is more tropical fruit and melon with a hint of floral and caramel. I enjoy how chardonnay drinks smooth and pairs well with meatier bites and fish. Plus, chardonnay works remarkably well with salads that are heavy on the toppings and light on the greens.
This first time I heard of vermentino was in 2017 on our trip to Italy. The Husband and I had developed a routine of having “first dinner” where, around 6pm, we would order a few appetizers and a half bottle of wine to enjoy on a restaurant patio. In Florence, that half bottle of wine was a vermentino. I loved it so much I made him take a picture so I could remember it.
When we got back to the states, I discovered that vermentino is not a common grape. Luckily, we live near two great wine shops (shout out to the amazing Calvert Woodley) and I was able to grab some bottles to continue my love affair. (It also turns out that a vineyard out in Virginia wine country is one of the only ones to grow this wine in the states. I’ve had it. It’s not bad.)
This is light white wine with a slight effervescent feel on the tongue. It’s not a sparkling wine at all, but there is a hint of spritz in most bottles which I adore. The flavor is more acid-forward with hints of citrus. There’s actually not much nose to speak of but there can be hints of almond and flowers. While it is mostly light on the tongue, there is a fuller, almost silky, backend which gives this grape lasting mouthfeel.
I buy multiple bottles of this at a time and it always feels like a special occasion when I open one up.
I listen to a lot of podcasts. Many of them are produced by NPR. Next week, I’ll share my top three NPR podcasts.
This post is a part of the free preview. My Top 3 will go behind a paywall on September 1, 2022.
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