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Cooking Q&A: Choosing White Wine?


I’m sick of Chardonnay. Any suggestions?


First, let’s figure out what kind of wine you like. If you’ve been drinking Chardonnay simply out of habit, answer a few questions:

  • Do you like light wines or more medium- to heavy-bodied wines? The “body” of the wine describes how the wine feels in your mouth -- like a bite of lamb feels heavy while a scallop is light.
  • Do you like light, acidic wines or softer, mellow wines? You can judge a wine’s acidity by the amount it takes to make your cheeks and tongue “twinge.”

Because the characteristics of a wine depend a lot on where the grapes were grown, my recommendations are fairly general. The only way to figure out what you like, or to learn the difference between a French Burgundy and a California Chardonnay (both made with Chardonnay grapes), is to try it. Think of it as “research.”

If you like light, acidic wines, my favorite is Gruner Veltliner [GROO-ner vehlt-LEE-ner] -- an Austrian wine. Dollar for dollar, you can't beat the Loimer Lois Gruner Veltliner. Other wines that fit the bill: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Italian Verdicchio, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, and Vino Verde.

If you like fuller, softer wines, my favorite is white Burgundy. Other wines that fit the bill: Bordeaux, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Sylvaner, and Muller-Thurgau.

My best tip is this: Try before you buy. Most wine shops -- big and small -- offer daily or weekly tastings. My local wine shop usually has at least half of their selection open to try or will open just about any bottle you want for a taste. If you have a good relationship with a wine shop, they’ll bend over backward to introduce you to different wines.

Or host your own wine-tasting party.

-- Colleen Rush