Wine, Etc.: White wines have many advantages over reds

Go to any restaurant and you are likely to witness a bit of discrimination in wine. Women prefer white wine – usually chardonnay – and men prefer beer, cocktail, or red wine. OK, we know this is sexist and a stereotype. But it sure seems that there is an image associated with white wine that isn’t very macho.

Let us debunk that notion about white wine.

We, too, prefer red wine. It occupies 98 percent of our two cellars. But there are only so many times you are putting beef or lamb on the table to match those wonderful, aging reds. Generally, white wine does better with seafood and pork – frequent fare at our tables.

White wine has gotten a bad rap even though it has a lot of advantages over red. First, it doesn’t require aging. A frustration in laying down red wine in the cellar is waiting a decade for it to mature – how can you remember what it tasted like when you first ordered it? Except for French burgundies, white wine is generally a pop-and-pour drink.

Second, white wine can wake up the palate a whole lot better than red. Its acidity and cool temperatures make it refreshing. Even on winter days, we like to start the evening with a glass of white wine. That acidity makes white wine a better match to highly seasoned food. Try matching a red wine to any food seasoned with hot peppers, for instance. A wine like gewurztraminer offsets the heat better than any red wine.

Or, try to enjoy a glass of cabernet sauvignon with salty oysters. Now, match them with a steely muscadet or a minerally chablis and tell us you drink only red wine.

Third, except for burgundies, white wine is usually a better value. California chardonnays can be ridiculously expensive, but generally good white wine can be bought for less than $15.

Fourth, there are a lot of interesting white grape varieties waiting to be discovered. The adventure of finding new wine is enhanced if you broaden your palate. We have been discovering new godellos from Spain, for instance. We love that country’s albarinos, but godello gives us something new to explore. The wines from Greece use obscure grape varieties like assyrtiko and introduce you to a whole new world of flavors. Put those against olives, spanakotyropita or branzino and you’ll see what we mean.

On a summer day, we love sancerre from the Loire. Taste one of these and you’ll have a better understanding of how sauvignon blanc should be made. Or, if you want to have some fun, add a New Zealand and a California sauvignon blanc to the tasting. The differences are more startling than anything in, say, merlot.

Riesling is the most underappreciated white wine. Unfortunately, a lot of it is sweet for most palates. Still, try a German riesling and you may forgive the sweetness. An Alsace riesling is drier and makes for a better match to seafood and chicken. One of Tom’s favorite dishes to make in the winter is cornish game hens with a riesling sauce.

White grapes can blend just as nicely as red too, but you don’t see it as often. The other day Tom enjoyed a tasty Alsatian blend of muscat, riesling and pinot gris. Semillon is a great way to soften sauvignon blanc. Conundrum is a popular California blend of nearly a dozen white grape varieties.

Chardonnay is probably the most vilified white grape variety because it is so common – yet it remains the most popular white wine in the United States. Despite its reputation, it is the grape variety that goes into France’s great burgundies and it is the white wine with the greatest versatility. If you doubt it’s potential, try a Paul Hobbs or Chateau Montela chardonnay. Better, try a French chablis made with the same grape variety.

So, let’s give white wine the respect it deserves. Drink it often and never apologize.

Here are some suggestions:

Pazo de Arribi Bierzo Godello ($17). Bin 201 has some godello if you have a hard time finding it.

Laxas Albarino Rias Baixas ($18). These wines are getting easier to find locally. And, Jalepeno’s has three on its wine list.

Esperanza Verdejo ($15). Another Spanish wine with refreshing quality.

Cour-Cheverny ($17). This very unusual district makes incredibly good wine from the romorantin grape. You can find this at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits.

Guado al Tasso Vermentino ($15). From Italy, this wine has incredible aromatics and simple fruity flavors.

Laurenz V Singing Gruener Veltline ($16). This is Austria’s most famous grape variety. It is crisp on the palate and great alongside seafood or enjoyed just as a sipper.

Neptune Picpoul de Pinet ($13). We turn to this wine summer after summer. It is simple, inexpensive and full of citrus flavors.


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Mimosa Golf Estate, Clark Field (Clark Airbase), Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines
Tel: (045) 599-5600 0922-870-5194 0917-520-4401 Ask for Daniel, Lito or Cosh

Banquet, Events and Functions, Manila Sales Office 3003C East Tower, Philippines Stock Exchange Center
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel: (632) 633-1566 ask for Rea or Chay

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