For many of us, winter is a time for red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or others.
But you may be a person who only enjoys white wine but doesn’t care for Chardonnay. If you have not already tried Chenin Blanc, please give it a try, as it may be a candidate for your favorite winter or year-round white wine.
Phonetically, the grape is pronounced “shen-nin blank,” and it is grown in many countries. Most Chenin Blanc is produced in South Africa, even though it is native to the Loire Valley in France. In South Africa, this wine may be called “steen.”
Winemakers can make Chenin Blanc in many styles. It can be bone-dry, off-dry, sweet, or even sparkling. If you want to get familiar with a particular brand of Chenin Blanc, do a little research or ask your wine shop cashier for help. Chenin Blanc, from the French town of Vouvray in the Loire Valley, is an excellent place to start your Chenin Blanc journey.
Kathryn Loveless, writing for Vino del Vida, describes some flavors you may find in different styles of Chenin Blanc. A sweet Chenin Blanc may offer you flavors of pear, peach, and nectarine, as well as floral aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle. For dry Chenin Blanc, flavors of lemons, green pear, and green apple may be found. If your Chenin Blanc was aged in oak barrels, you might discover flavors of butterscotch, honeyed oats, vanilla, and bread.
Ms. Loveless goes on to say that with such a wide variety in the flavors of Chenin Blanc, the pairing options seem endless; Meats: poultry, trout, pork chops, turkey, salmon (smoked or baked), veal, Vegetables: squash, yams, cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes, Cheese: brie (dry), goat cheeses (dry), cow’s milk cheeses (sweet), cheddar (sweet), gruyere (dry and sweet), Desserts: anything made with Christmas spices, apple pie, pear tarts, roasted peaches (dry), poached bears (sweet), baked apples (sweet), key lime pie and lemon meringue.
Chenin Blanc is a changeable chameleon in the wine world, making it an enjoyable wine to discover and enjoy. Cheers!