They say Cabernet is King, but I don’t believe them. Here are nine reasons why you should drink more white wine.
For the purposes of this post (and this blog), the term “white wine” includes not just your everyday Chardonnay but also rosé, orange, almost all sparkling, Sherry, Madeira, most Sake, and any dessert wine that is not red. Basically any wine you serve chilled as you would a regular table white counts. White wines run the gamut from crisp and fresh, to full-bodied and buttery, to off-dry, to sweet, to aromatic and floral, to nutty, and everything in between. There’s virtually no chance that there isn’t something here for everyone to love.
Sometimes you just want something refreshing, whether that’s due to the time of year, the meal you’re planning, or because it’s simply what you’re craving. When is the last time you described a Syrah (or most any red for that matter) as refreshing? Refreshment is white wine’s wheelhouse.
Are you a vegetarian? Pescatarian? Vegan? Trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet? Maybe you’re just eating less red meat lately? If any of these is true, you’ll find far better pairing options for what you’re eating now in the white wine family.
Speaking of pairing options, there’s a reason sommeliers love Riesling, Chenin Blanc, a multitude of Italian whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Sherry, and rosé just to name a few. That reason is acidity. At its very basic level, acidity makes your mouth water, which makes you want to eat. When it comes to pairing with food, wines higher in acid allow for more versatility and more options. They can match citrus flavors and vinaigrettes, balance the richness of creamy sauces, soups, and cheese, cleanse the palate when paired with fatty or fried foods, hold their own with high acid foods like green apples and tomatoes, and provide the best partner for things that are difficult to pair like asparagus and artichoke. There are many high acid white wines out there, but not so many reds.
Drinking white wine means fewer wine stains on your clothes, your carpet, and your teeth. Who isn’t in favor of that?
For those who experience wine-induced headaches not caused by excess consumption, choosing white wine may mean enduring fewer of them. While there are no comprehensive studies on this topic, doctors overwhelmingly agree that wine headaches are not caused by sulfites. Sulfites, typically present at higher levels in white than in red, cause a severe asthmatic reaction in those who have sulfite allergy, but they are not believed to trigger headaches. While there are many theories on what does, the one that seems to have the most traction in the scientific community is that wine headaches are somehow associated with tannin. Good news for white wine drinkers as whites are far lower in tannin than reds.
Red is Still an Option
Many white wines are made from red grapes. Rosés are the obvious example and are made from pretty much any red grape you can think of. I’ve also tasted a number of traditional still whites made from red grapes from Oregon, California, and Germany in the last couple of years. The most successful of these, in my opinion, were made from Pinot Noir. It’s a great new way to experience an old favorite. And then there’s Champagne. Two of the three traditional Champagne grapes are red (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) but all Champagne is in the white wine family.
If you don’t drink white you can’t drink Champagne, and that would be a tragedy.
The Final Pitch
While there are unquestionably some amazing red wines out there, and I have been very lucky to taste more than a few, for me the most exciting, memorable, and astonishing wines I’ve experienced have overwhelmingly been white. The best are rich without being weighty, light without sacrificing texture, lit from within by acidity, and anchored by a striking depth of flavor. They have a stunning, almost crystalline purity; a complexity that invites quiet discovery, like turning pages in a book. The best whites are every complementary opposite – familiar memories and new adventures in a single sip. They have made me a believer in the great power of subtlety. I hope they’ll make you one, too.