What is White Wine?

During the month of May Happy Hour City will be celebrating all things wine related. Each week we will educate you on the different types of wine, we will also show you how to make wine centered cocktails/drinks, and we will be giving you the inside scoop on some of the best wine bars & wineries around LA. 

So often people are bewildered by the combinations of red grapes and fine red wines, that we often forget or overlook the marvelous complexity of whites. The wine itself dates back 2,500 years! Don’t worry that is not how long this article will take you to read, we got your back on this Monday’s topic: What exactly is white wine? 


-The “white" grapes used when making white wine are actually more green and yellow in color, the most commonly known ones include the Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Riesling. In different cases, colored skin grapes are used to make white wine, just as long as the wort (liquid from fermentation) isn’t colored. Pinot noir, for example, is commonly used to produce champagne.

-As far as popular types of white wines, dry is the most common. It’s aromatic and tangy mostly due to it’s complete and total fermentation of the wort. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum lie sweet wines. Their process includes actually interrupting the fermentation before all the grape sugars (wort) are converted into alcohol; this is called Mutage or fortification.

-Then there are, Sparkling wines, which are mostly white, during their fermentation process the carbon dioxide is kept dissolved in the wine and becomes gas when the bottle is opened. And ta-da you got bubbles! These are not champagne though! We will cover that later this month.

-One of the most important characteristics of fermenting a white grape lies in that they don’t require as much heat to ripen. Due to that, they lack more mature tannins than their red grape cousins. This balances out the taste, the grapes are more alive and therefore less acidic. When making dry wine, the grapes are harvested just before ripening.

A Brief History:

White wine dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, the Greek physician, Hippocrates (460 BC) was known for prescribing “Vinous white wine” or “bitter white wine” as remedies.

As the Romans conquered northern lands, they came across the cultivation of the “aminum” or ancient grape which produced a sweet white wine. As they headed into mountainous regions, they were in a way forced to seek other methods of making booze.

They studied and cultivated varieties of grapes that were adaptable to these distant areas where their past grapes and methods had serious limitations. 

Following the Roman empire, wine merchants went broke and the production of fine wines was almost non-existent. Vikings and Germanic tribes that took over, actually preferred to drink beer and saw wine as a useless trade product.

If it hadn’t been because the Catholic church needed wine for Mass, it may not have ever made a comeback. Monks took over the fermentation and winemaking process, but they switched up the location of their harvests.

They planted vines at high latitudes only they knew how to reach. This made wine incredibly difficult to transport and store. Therefore, wine drinking was only popular for locals to consume, and that’s only if they happened to be BFFs with the monks.

However, because wine was always considered something of a prestigious item, almost always identified with those of power and status. So, it came back around with the rise of noblemen and families of honor in the Middle-Ages, thank goodness for that. 

Nowadays, white wines are more often used as an apéritif before a meal, or perhaps with dessert, or even as a refreshing drink between meals. Basically, not something you want to wash down food with, but definitely something you want to cook food with. 

Random Wine Fact:

There are some people that have a fear of wine. It’s called “oenophobia”.

So, next time you’re in the wine aisle, thinking about how you “might mix it up” and go for white wine but you’re hesitating- hesitate again, and GO FOR IT. White wines are delicious, they come in vastly different flavors from fresh, green, citrusy, buttery, all the way to: sour, acid, and tangy.

Look out next week when we dive deep into the sea of red wines. Until then, thanks for reading and as always...

Cheers from,
Happy Hour City