Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is it common to be able to taste the complexities of red wines but not whites? I really enjoy exploring good red wines, and often agree with the subtleties described in Wine Spectator tasting notes. However, even though I’ve gone out of my way to get some whites that get rated very high, I’ve never tasted a white wine that did anything for me. I taste the wine, read the notes, but there’s nothing there. How do I find whites that will interest an apparently red-only palate?
—Tim H., Fairbanks, Alaska
The first thing that popped into my head when I read your letter is that I bet you’re drinking your white wines too cold. Most folks serve whites right out of the refrigerator (typically a chilly 35 degrees F), where it’s cold enough to suppress the wine’s aromatics. If you let it warm up for a little while to get the serving temperature closer to 40 or even 50 degrees F, I think you might find white wines more expressive.
Since you’re a self-proclaimed red wine lover, you may also do well to focus on more full-bodied white wines, which might be more in line with your experience. Look for whites like Chardonnay and Viognier that have been barrel-fermented, which will have some of the similar barrel influences that you can recognize in red wines.
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