Today, we are going to look at the different types or varietals of wine. This article will look at pairing different varietals of wine with different food as well as typical characteristics of the wine. This article will not focus on any brand or vintage of wine, nor will it focus on aroma, tasting notes, or specifics.
We’ll touch on 8 popular varietals of wine in this two-part article. We will focus on wines typically found in mid-level to higher-end restaurants. This article will look at Moscato, Reisling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio first. And, in our next article, we will explore Red Wine; Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz/Syrah.
Moscato: Moscato is light colored and has mild effervescence. One of the sweetest varieties of white wine, Moscato has been growing heavily in popularity over the last decade. This style is favored by those that want to drink wine but want to drink something that’s sweet and fruity rather than dry. The light effervescence and fruitiness makes this a great wine for patios, decks, and outdoor areas. This is typically a faster drinking wine, with less time between sips and bottles can sell quickly. This style sides younger and female and is commonly drank by people that ordinarily do not drink wine. It can be a wine you can introduce to someone drinking a mixed drink to convert them over to wine.
Pairing: Pair it with sunshine. Otherwise, Moscato can pair admirably with other sweet items, such as berries, sorbet, and cheesecake.
Reisling: Reisling has lost a little market share to Moscato recently, however Reisling is still the standard for “sweet white wine.” Mild and sweet, Reisling is an easy drinking white. It has golden hues and typically has a noticeable apple nose and flavor. American versions are typically sweeter than Reisling from other regions of the world.
Pairing: Reisling goes well with fruit flavors especially apple and grape or can be drank without pairing. However, drier (typically non-American) styles can pair well with fish, chicken, turkey, and pork.
Chardonnay: One of the most popular white varietals, Chardonnay is drier and less sweet than both Moscato and Reisling. It is more full-bodied than Reisling or Moscato and carries citrusy notes. In other words, it is less refreshing and feels more filling than the lighter whites. This fullness helps it pair with foods much better than sweeter whites.
Pairing: Chardonnay pairs well with chicken, turkey, and fish. Pastas with white, mild, or creamier sauces can also work well with Chardonnay.
Pinot Grigio: Less popular then Chardonnay and Reisling, and less trendy than Moscato, Pinot Grigio is often a less thought about white wine. However, Pinot Grigio offers a great versatility for a white wine. It tends to lend better towards spicier foods as it carries more of a ‘bite’ to it then other common whites. Because of this roughness, it does typically taste better when paired rather than drank alone.
Pairing: Spicier foods, Asian cuisine, sausage and other charcuterie.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a little more about common white wine varietals as well as how to pair them with foods that will compliment their flavors. This information should allow your servers and bartenders to make educated suggestions on wine choices and allow them to provide more value to customers that are looking to try new wines but aren’t sure what to order.
In our next post we’ll explore red wine fundamentals and pairings.