I was recently reminded of an attitude about white wine that I have encountered before. I was talking to a friend about The Wine Populist and was asked if I liked white wine. That same night I went out to dinner and a waiter who knows my interest in wine automatically put red wine glasses on the table.
Well in answer to the question, I definitely like white wine. Meursault, a white Burgundy is one of my all-time favorite wines. I don’t understand why many people don’t think that white wine is “real wine.” The most common complaints are that it is too light, too acidic, or that it lacks tannin or body. While white wine does not have tannin, none of the others points are true per se. There are whites that are light (which is OK by me). By no means are they all light. Some California Chardonnays are over 14% alcohol. Add to that, malolactic fermentation and aging in barriques; they are anything but light. Maybe that is an extreme example but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others.
There is one complaint about white wine I do share; there are too many oxidized white wines out there. Oxidized white wines have a disagreeable flavor that has been likened to paint thinner. Whites are more prone to oxidation then reds or roses but many, if not all, of the bad glasses are preventable. Improper storage is usually the culprit. If you store a white wine upright at room temperatures it is going to oxidize. If you run a restaurant or bar and leave a bottle open for more than a few hours, it is going to oxidize.
So what do you do? Don’t buy white wine at a place that doesn’t store their wine properly. If you get an oxidized glass at a bar or restaurant; send it back. Don’t just think; “I don’t like white wine.”
Even understanding the oxidation problem, what is bothering me most about the anti-white wine attitude is that it comes from the idea there is a conceptual “perfect wine” against which all wines should be measured. Usually it is that a wine should be high in alcohol with lots of tannin and fruit. Absurd! There are thousands of styles of wine. If wine says it is in a particular style, it should be that style. But a world with only one style of wine would be pretty boring. I guess I should let them search for the perfect wine. I will be enjoying the wine I am drinking, and frequently it will be white.