Do you consider yourself a red wine drinker or a white wine drinker?
I drink both but I often come across red wine drinkers who are put off by the perceived “sweetness” of white wine.
Sweetness can be somewhat tricky in wine as a wine can taste sweet even if it is not by definition a sweet wine. Sweetness as a taste is subjective and can come from various factors, such as oak aging or from very ripe fruit, which means that it is not wrong to not like wines because they are sweet.
But the sweetness of a wine is also a category. Wine is made by converting the sugars in grape juice into alcohol. If some sugars are not converted into alcohol then the wine is said to be sweet. If the level of residual sugars is low, then these wines may also be referred to as semi-dry or off-dry.
This is to say that if you don’t like white wines because they are sweet it might not be because they are in fact sweet. Sweet is also not synonymous with low quality. There are plenty of fine wines that have residual sugars and are by definition sweet.
Fortunately, there are plenty of magnificent dry white wines out there to choose from and I think even the most anti-white wine drinker put off by sweetness can find something to enjoy. Here are five common bone dry and dry white wines from Italy to get started.
Etna Bianco is a blend of native grapes grown on Mount Etna in Sicily that produce a wine with an unusual salty and savory flavor. The wines are a blend of Carricante and Catarratto and some Minnella. Other grapes may also be used. Look for Etna Bianco’s that are 100% Carricante for racy, salty wines with flavors of lemon, apricot, and apple.
Not to be confused by the cheese of the same name, Pecorino refers to the sheepherders and not to the sheep themselves (pecora means sheep in Italian). It’s found in central Italy mostly in the regions of Abruzzo and Marche, but also in Lazio, Tuscany, and Umbria. Usually medium-bodied, Pecorino wines are known for their high acidity and crispness, along with herbal and fruit flavors, such as apple and pear.
While Verdicchio can be used to make sweet and sparkling wines, the very best are dry and age-worthy. Named for the green shade of the grapes (verde mean green in Italian), dry Verdicchio wines are notably crisp with floral flavors that can become flinty with age.
Also known as Pigato, Vermentino is grown in Liguria in the north, in the central Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Abruzzo, and on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. It can be produced in a range of styles ranging from citrus to tropical fruit, and with floral and herbal notes, but is noted for having a particular saline or salty taste.
This crispy white originally from the northern region of Piedmont is often straw-green in color and can cover a wide range of aromas from white flowers to peach, apricot, and citrus, and even almond, and can have a creamy mouthfeel. This wine has a long history and was historically used to soften the high acidity of Barolo and Barbera and was considered Italy’s most popular dry white wine in the 1980s.
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