As the wine bottling season starts, familiarise yourself with popular white wine grape varieties.
Originating from the Burgundy wine region in eastern France, chardonnay grapes are small and round in shape with colouring that varies between pale green and yellow.
Neutral in flavour, wines produced using the grape tend to vary in flavour. Unwooded chardonnay’s tend to have crisp, citrusy flavours while wooded ones have a more buttery taste.
Chardonnay wines are versatile and can be paired with a number of dishes. They are best suited to white meats and, if heavily oaked, go well with Asian or Thai cuisine.
Found in many of the world’s wine regions, the sauvignon blanc grape is indigenous to the Bordeaux region of France. The conical shaped grapes produce a crisp and refreshing taste.
The variety has an herbal, slightly earthy smell, depending on the climate in which it was grown. In cool climates the wines tend to be more acidic, with notes of bell peppers, asparagus and nettles. Those from warmer regions have a more tropical flavour.
Best drunk young, sauvignon blanc is one of the few wines that can be paired with sushi. Wine and cheese are also suitable accompaniments.
These small, juicy grapes are used to produce a variety of different tastes, ranging from crisp and fruity to sweet and floral. The versatility of the grapes means they can be used to make everything from sparkling to dessert wines.
Dating back to 1655, it is believed that Jan van Riebeeck first introduced the grapes to South Africa. They have since been used to make white wines, rosé, dessert wines, sparkling wines as well as brandy and sherry.
Wines made with the grapes have a great ageing ability, with the potential to last up to 100 years. The age of the wine influences pairings. Lighter, drier varieties pair well with salads, fish and chicken. The sweeter styles work with the more exotic flavours often found in Thai dishes.
Muscat de Frontignan
The muscat de frontignan variety of grape is known by a number of names, including moscato bianco, muscat blanc, muscat Canell and muscat blanc à petits grains.
They are possibly the oldest variety of grapes used for wine making in France and were one of the first varieties to arrive in South Africa.
The small berries vary in colour, depending on their state of ripeness. Starting as a green-yellow colour, they gradually change to a reddish brown as they ripen.
The grapes produce a well balanced variety of wine that is rich and sweet yet still light and delicate and it therefore make for a good pairing with a variety of dishes.