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Wine Review: Flip the script on white wines this winter

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I have often quoted my favorite Japanese proverb, “Take the obvious and reverse it.” That is exactly what I am about to do.

Wine custom dictates red wine for the winter, white wine for the summer and rose for spring and fall. A corollary to this 11th commandment of the wine world is “red wine for men and white wine for the women.” I am happy to inform you that the 21st century has relegated all of that nonsense to the historical trash heap.

There are some foods that call for a red wine no matter the season, and then there are those that scream for a white. A red wine will absolutely destroy any meal that is served with a sweet sauce or with sweet side dishes. It is the tannin in red wine that is the culprit in this scenario. While tannin does justice to a red meat meal, it is definitely the enemy of seafood, vegetarian and vegan dishes.

The tannin in red wines comes from the grape skins that also produce the color. So, there is no way to extract the tannin from a red wine except with very long bottle aging, which accounts why many wine aficionados “lay down” red wines for years before touching them. White wines, however, are made from just the grape juice and without skins, so it is free of any food interfering elements.

With that in mind, here are some interesting white wines that deserve your attention, too.

Steele 2018 Viognier ($20)
If you are a white wine enthusiast, viognier may be the other white wine you have been looking for. I will say that every chardonnay enthusiast I’ve introduced to viognier has claimed a new favorite. Steele Wines’ viognier is a golden color with an intensely room-filling floral aroma – think wild flowers and honeysuckle – and accented by scents of apricots, pears and tropical fruits to give the impression of sweetness. But the wine is totally dry. The flavor of this medium-bodied wine follows the aroma, which carries over to the finish where it lingers in the mouth for an incredibly long time for a white wine. As with all Steele Wines, it is very well made and worth far more than its affordable price may indicate.

Steele 2018 Pinot Blanc ($20)

Historically, the pinot blanc has been an “also ran” to the lofty chardonnay, a fate that it truly does not deserve. This is a wine with a rich apple, peach and melon aroma that is well laced with oak. The aromas carry over to the flavor where they mingle with vanilla and a hint of citrus, followed by a crisp acid bite that amplifies its flavors and the tastes of complementary foods. Because of its structure, this wine accompanies a broad spectrum of foods, and I expect it to broaden your wine appreciation spectrum.

Writers Block 2017 Roussanne ($20)
Roussanne is another one of those grape varieties that has lost interest in its native France but is gaining popularity in America. A native of the lower Rhone Valley, this grape was often used in the mish mash of grape varieties that make up the wine known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but rarely was it presented as a single variety. Very much like the viognier, the color of a roussanne is a light golden, which is its least impressive feature; from there, it goes straight to superlatives. The aroma is big, open and obviously displaying pineapple, Bosc pear, and Fuji apple. Tropical fruits dominate the flavor and continue on to an incredibly long and super fruity finish for a white wine. Some American vintners are beginning to plant this flavorful variety, and while the wines are a little difficult to find, the hunt will prove to be well worth it.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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