White wine is a refreshing alcoholic drink that is perfect for summer evenings and pairing with lighter meals.
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Some of the most popular white wine grapes include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Pinot Grigio. The pale colour and crisp textures of white wine occur due to these grapes being fermented without their skins. After harvesting, white wine grapes are pressed to remove skins and extract the light, pulpy flesh of the fruit.
This juice is then placed in steel tanks or oak barrels to ferment. Yeast is added to the mixture to stimulate this process, wherein natural fruit sugars are transformed into alcohol. White wine is fermented for around two weeks at very low temperatures, allowing delicate flavours and aromas to bloom.
White wines are matured for a much shorter period than their red counterparts, but still gain important tasting notes during its time resting in oak barrels. After aging, the wine is filtered to refine imperfections before being bottled and ready to serve.
The taste of white wine can vary from sweet to dry depending on the grape and country of origin but will always tend to deliver a fresh palate of ripe fruit and a pleasant acidic bite. It should always be served chilled and pairs brilliantly with seafood and light salads.
• In 2016, white wine sales in the UK overtook those of red wine for the very first time
• White wine is quite often made with red and black-skinned grapes. It does not retain the fruits’ colour or flavour as the skins are removed before fermentation
• The taste of white wine varies greatly depending on where it was produced. Grapes grown in warmer climates are sweeter, whereas colder climates produce rather acidic fruits
Wine is one of the world’s oldest drinks, with evidence of it being produced thousands of years prior to recorded history. Because red wine is fermented with the grape skins intact and is therefore a simpler recipe, it was most probably the first wine type to be made.
The very existence of white wine grapes was recently shown to be a lucky biological accident. Scientists found that a grape’s colour is determined by two genes, VvMYBA1 and VvMYBA2. In white grapes, both genes are mutated – an incredibly rare phenomenon.
This turn in the genetic makeup of grapes is thought to have occurred sometime before the 1st century BCE, as flasks containing white wine residue were discovered in the tomb of ancient Egyptian king, Tutankhamen. It is also certain to have been drunk widely in Ancient Greece, with famous physician Hippocrates prescribing it to his patients.
While it certainly has origins in antiquity, white wine is frequently associated with “New World” wines. This phrase refers to wines produced outside of the traditional European wine-making nations, in countries such as America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. New Zealand’s first recorded wine was a sparkling white produced in 1840, a bottle that would form the basis of the chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigios we love today.
How long does white wine last?
Unopened, most white wines have a shelf life of around up to five years. Once opened, the wine bottle must be tightly sealed with its cap or a wine stopper, refrigerated, and consumed within 3 days.
What is the difference between dry wine and sweet wine?
The terms dry, semi-dry, and sweet all refer to the sugar content of wine.
Dry wines have very little sweetness as all the grapes’ sugars are transformed into alcohol during fermentation. Semi-dry will have a little sugar remaining, and sweet wines (unsurprisingly) have the highest proportion of sugar.
What food pairs with white wine?
White wines pair beautifully with light, summery flavours. Serve alongside seafood, chicken, goat’s cheese, salads, and fresh seasonal vegetables.
What is a white wine spritzer?
A white wine spritzer is a simple, delicious cocktail. To make, pour a medium glass of white wine, top it off with sparkling water, and add a generous squeeze of lemon.
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