Kitchen Tips

Wine 101: White wines

If the length (and detail) of a wine list, or the sheer number of options at the bottle shop, tends to leave you scrambling for a decision, our go-to guide has got you covered.

We sat down with Dan Murphy's wine expert extraordinaire, Peter Nixon, to get the lowdown on our favourite white wines.
Here, he teaches us the difference between chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, and, more importantly, what we should be eating with them.

Chardonnay

Where does it originate from?
Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France, but grows beautifully around Australia, in both cooler regions, such as the Macedon Ranges, Margaret River and Tasmania, as well as the traditional warmer regions including the Hunter Valley.
What does it taste like (and what is it typically made up of)?
The flavours of chardonnay can vary widely, depending on the region it is grown in, and ranges from lean, austere and mineral, all the way to the rich, viscous and full-bodied.
What food should I eat when drinking it?
Avoid tomato-based dishes, as the buttery flavour of the wine doesn’t pair well with acidic food. Try light, delicate dishes such as prawn or crab, like these Thai crab fritters with cabbage salad.

Sauvignon blanc

Where does it originate from?
Sauvignon blanc can trace its origins back to the Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions in France where its name literally translates to "Wild White".
What does it taste like (and what is it typically made up of)?
The wine has a powerful, fruit-driven punch, with tropical, citrus and passionfruit flavours. Sauvignon is also famous for parenting the noble grape, cabernet sauvignon, also from Bordeaux.
What food should I eat when drinking it?
Sauvignon blanc's simplicity of flavours sometimes has purists struggling to find a good food partner, but you need to look no further than a plate of quality soft cheese and especially a chevre. The lively acidity and tropical notes pair majestically.
It also makes a bright pairing with a rocket, chicken and date salad or even pasta-based salads; sauvignon blanc also makes an excellent aperitif.

Rosé

Where does it originate from?
It finds its spiritual home in the Mediterranean, particularly in southern France, where its deliciousness and versatility at the table have long been prized.
What does it taste like (and what is it typically made up of)?
Rosé is made by macerating grape juice with the skins of red grapes for a shorter period than for making red wine; the longer the maceration, the deeper the colour. The wine may then be fermented dry as with most rosés, or left with a dollop of sweetness.
What food should I eat when drinking it?
Rose works well with dressed salads, adding a fruity lift to this smoked tofu salad with peanut dressing.

Champagne

Where does it originate from?
Champagne (a special variety of sparkling wine) can only be made in the champagne region of France, and has to be made from particular grapes using a particular method.
What does it taste like (and what is it typically made up of)?
Champagne has a fresh and clean taste, with crisp green apple and citrus flavours. It is typically made up of three grape varieties: Chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
What food should I eat when drinking it?
Champagne goes brilliantly with blinis with smoked salmon and oysters.

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