When it comes to white wine, we all know the different varieties that make up the shelves of our favourite bottle shops. Whether you’re a Chardonnay lover or partial to a Pinot Gris, the real choice you’re making is based on the flavour profiles of the wine itself. The flavour profiles are the underlying nuances in the winemaker’s journey and ingredients used in the winemaking process. If you’re not familiar with the 6 popular flavour profiles used in white wine and what appeals to your palate, then use this simple guide to get yourself acquainted.
1. Stone fruit
Stone fruit is a popular flavour profile and a distinct taste that many white wine drinkers have fallen in love with. Using the best stone fruit on offer, white wine that uses a stone fruit profile generally has aromas of apricot, nectarine, apple, peach and pear. Stone fruit is also a prevalent flavour profile for Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc makers. If you find yourself opting for one of these two varieties, stone fruit is a profile you must enjoy.
2. Citrus fruits
Similar to their stone companions, citrus fruits are a flavour profile used by many winemakers when making highly complex white wines. Citrus flavours provide aromas of lemon, lime, and orange and often use a lot of zest to help bring out the real taste of the wine. Riesling varieties rely heavily on the citrus profile in their flavour, which grants this variety a highly dynamic taste that’s proven to be quite popular across the globe. It’s important to remember that citrus can be encountered at different stages of your wine consumption or even different portions of that batch’s journey, so you might not notice a citrus flavour profile right away. Just because it’s not easily noticeable, however, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there!
It might be hard to associate white wine with creaminess, but believe it or not, this taste and texture play a crucial role in the flavour of some key varieties. Creaminess doesn’t refer to dairy used in winemaking, however. Instead, it’s really about how oily the texture of the white wine feels on the drinker’s palate. In other words, this flavour profile is all about the mouthfeel after you enjoy a sip of your wine. Varieties such as Semillon enjoy a pronounced flavour profile of creaminess. If you enjoy a Semillon then perhaps you quite enjoy a certain creaminess to your wine.
Another interesting flavour profile to associate with white wine, bitterness refers to the clearly bitter or quinine taste of the wine itself. Sauvignon Blanc is a variety where bitterness is present without being pronounced or over-powering, which is why this particular wine style is a global favourite.
In truth, bitterness is a necessary flavour profile to help balance the wine, rather than a profile that winemakers look to champion in their flavours. With the right amount of bitterness, winemakers can really cut through the sweetness offered by other profiles in their wine, allowing them to create a dynamic flavour.
Florals are used in a lot of winemaking and are a fundamental flavour profile to add a distinctive smell and taste to the wine. Floral aromas vary from lighter white flowers to the more intense rose smells you may get in some wines. A lot of wines have florals present in their winemaking, but one variety champions the floral aromas to make their mark.
Moscato uses the flavour profile of florals to create a bold and intense flavour and smell. If you’ve ever had a deep smell of your Moscato, you know exactly what that profile brings to the wine. That light and the organic scent is likely to keep you coming back to a bottle of Moscato again and again.
6. Overall body
This last flavour profile is one almost all wine drinkers have heard at some point. The body of a wine is often used to describe how the wine feels when you drink it. You’ll often hear a wine described as heavy or light. This description is the overall body flavour profile of the wine. Certain wines lend themselves to being heavier and others are much lighter for the drinker. Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is a much heavier variety of white wine, for instance, when compared to lighter whites like a Pinot Gris.
The overall body is often used to provide a recommendation to an inexperienced wine drinker. Wines that are on the lighter side of this flavour profile are usually considered a safer entry point into the art of wine tasting, whilst heavier wines are best saved for when you know a little more about your own tastes and preferences.
Flavour profiles in white wine are like the colours and patterns of a complex painting: too much of one, or not enough of another and you’ll end up with a pretty ordinary painting. In essence, the perfect wine is all about balancing the flavour profiles for the variety being made. White wine drinkers often know what they like and what they don’t like, without really knowing how. Their bodies are telling them which flavour profiles they prefer, and now that you know the 6 most popular flavour profiles in white wine, you can listen and choose a wine you know you’ll love.