I started loving wine before I knew much about it; I was doing lots tastings at wineries, but didn’t really know what to expect from one type to another.
If you’re like me when I started out, don’t sweat – I’ll get you up to speed. I’ve put together a girl squad to help you see the differences between 5 key white varietals; Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Pinot grigio, and Moscato.
Let’s meet them, shall we?
Chantal is a yo-yo dieter. Sometimes when you see her she’s got a lot of body, and sometimes she’s so thin you barely recognize her – in fact you thought she was pinot grigio for a second! She’s a pretty dry kind of gal, doesn’t take any shit. She can be seen super chill at pubs, but also gets dulled up and graces super fancy establishments with her presence. When you engage with her in the right situation you realize she’s really interesting and complex.
You guessed it. Chantal is chardonnay. Chardonnay is a versile grape that’s relatively easy to grow, which is why we can see it produced around the world. Generally in places like Australia and California, and the Cote d’Or in France, chardonnay is oaked, which gives it a rounder body and buttery taste. The most notable style with less/ no oak is Chablis in france, but we’re seeing more and more unoaked chardonnay. Here in Canada there’s some excellent styles being made. Chardonnay can be made on a large scale and you can pick up some super-decent inexpensive expressions. Or, when grown in a premium area and with the right winemaking, it can be very fancy – complex and expressive (and pricey!)
The extravert of the group. She’s fun, jazzy and sassy, always has something to say and isn’t shy. Some people love her for that; some can’t stand it; some only like her in small amounts. She’s confident and proud, but can get jealous – you can see green in her sometimes but it’s actually a pretty cool, it adds to her character.
Sue-Betty is Sauvignon Blanc. If, like me, your mind goes straight to New Zealand when you think of sauvignon blanc, you’ll know why I compared her to someone with a lot of expression. It’s also sauvignon blanc from this side of the world where we get some of those ‘green’ notes (like freshly cut grass, or capsicum). If you venture other places in the world, especially with warmer climates, you will get different expressions with stonefruit or tropical, but you’ll always know a Savvy B when you see it.
Pamela-Grace is a chill chick. Most people get along with her really well because she’s inoffensive, nice to everyone. She’s got Italian and French friends and they call her by different nicknames. She seems to act a little different with each group but keeps her core personality.
Pamela-Grace is Pinot Grigio. If you’re rolling in to the liquor store and picking up an inexpensive bottle (around $10-15), expect it to be tasty, and easy to drink; they’re can be quite neutral and most people will enjoy them. Pinot Gris is same grape, but it can be made with different expression. Pinot Gris from the Alsace region of France is typically rich and often sweet, tropical fruit character. Pinot Grigio in Italy shows a lighter, crisp, expression of the grape, with citrus flavors.
Mary is a sweetie. She’s so nice, and is normally the person who brings new people into the group to meet the other girls. Some people think she’s a bit too nice, and prefer to go on to meet the others, but some people just love her so much they want to be friends with her forever.
Mary is Moscato. I see a lot of different reactions to this wine in my job – most people LOVE it but some aren’t a fan of the sweetness. Moscato tends to be what gets people into drinking wine – it was definitely my wine of choice when I hit legal drinking age! I still love a glass with a slightly sweet dessert, on the patio on a hot day, or to make a killer white sangria!
Rosie is one temperamental woman. One second she’s sweet, the next she’s completely tart and sharp, and sometimes she’s particularly icey. It can be pretty hard to know what you’re going to get from her, so many people don’t try to get to know her. But trust me, when you get her on the right day, she’s bloody amazing! And if you keep her as a friend for a long time, she just gets better and better with age.
Guessed it? Rosie is Riesling. I know, we don’t make it easy for you with Riesling. Some are sweet as pie, some are dry and acidic as biting into a lemon (I love this style!) others sit somewhere in between on the spectrum… and we also make sweet ice wine from the stuff! When you pick up a bottle it can be hard to be sure what style it will be, but when you find one you love, I promise it’s worth the risk. Riesling is amazing; sharp acidity, zesty citrus and minerality is where it’s at! And if you have the patience/ forgetfulness to throw some bottles under your bed and try them again in 10 years, my god it will be worth it. It doesn’t even have to be a super-expensive bottle, this year I was drinking Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling (worth around $17) from 2012 – incredible.
So they’re the girls. It’s a solid squad, I encourage you to get to know them!
Leave me your comments to let me know if you agree!