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Column: Appreciating white wines

A look at why we should appreciate B.C. white wines.
White wines
White wines should be appreciated for their diversity, ability to pair with food and affordability.

According to a study by Statistics Canada in 2019, more people prefer drinking red wine to white wine. This could be because people believe that red wine is healthier because of the purported health benefits of resveratrol, which is the substance in grape skins that gives red wine its colour. Or people may just like the color of red wines more than white wines because the darker colour seems more sophisticated. There is also a general belief that you should pair white wines with fish and red wines with meat.

I admit that I prefer red wines to white wines. But recently, I have tried to appreciate white wines more and dispel some of my own long held preconceptions about white wine.

The notion that white wines are light and can’t pair with heavy foods or meat is not always true. While there are many light bodied white wines, there are also some very flavorful and heavy white wines that still stand up well to meat dishes. Try a Chardonnay from the US or the Burgundy region in France. While I do believe red wines pair better with steak and lamb dishes, white wines are perfect wine pairings for chicken and pork dishes. White wines are also a wonderful accompaniment to pasta dishes, especially pasta with cream sauces or seafood.

Another wonderful characteristic of many white wines is their acidity. Acidity in wines is what makes you salivate. I find that a chilled white wine with good acidity actually increases my appetite and brings vibrancy to the meal.

With white wines, there is such a diversity of styles (sweet, fruity, steely, oaky, etc.) that white wines are sometimes better wines to pair with food than red wines. Red wines can sometimes be heavy and brooding and divert attention away from the food. With white wines, I think they pair more cooperatively with food.

In general, white wines cost less than red wines. There are some very expensive white wines as well, but one of the best regions for very high-end white wines is the Chablis region in France, which produces bone dry Chardonnay-based wines of very high quality at a reasonable price.

We are also very fortunate in B.C. that our terroir and climate allow us to grow a wide range of grapes used to produce quality white wines. Because white wines are not as popular as red wines, you get the benefit of very reasonable prices. B.C. makes wonderful sweet/fruity white wines made from the Gewurztraminer and Riesling grape. One of my favourite B.C. wines of this style is the Wild Goose Gewurztraminer, priced at $17.99 in B.C. Liquor Stores.

B.C. also makes very delicious Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris wines. Pinot Blanc wines are dry with an almond aftertaste, while Pinot Gris wines will taste of orange peels or lemon rinds. Blue Mountain Vineyards makes great Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris wines priced around $25 to $30. I also really like the Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc, priced at $16.97 at B.C. Liquor Stores

Finally, B.C. also produces heavier Chardonnay wines. I have always enjoyed the Cedarcreek Chardonnay, priced at $23.99 at B.C. Liquor Stores.

As you can see, you can get good quality white wines for fairly reasonable prices. If you really want to splurge, you can try the Checkmate Little Pawn Chardonnay, priced at $109.99 at B.C. Liquor stores. See my full review of this wine on my YouTube channel. Until next time, happy drinking

Tony Kwan is the Richmond News' new columnist. Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.