Best White Wines for a Comparative Tasting

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Curious to find some solid choices for hosting a wine tasting party or running participants through a more formal comparative tasting? We've rounded up our favorite white wines that show distinct color combinations, aromas and flavor profiles.

Wine #1: Riesling

Riesling Producers to Consider: Charles Smith, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Dr. Loosen, Eroica, JJ Prum, Leitz, Pacific Rim, Selbach, Trimbach (dry)

Riesling in the glass:  Riesling wines originated in Germany's Rhein and Mosel river valleys, it was here that this white grape gained its tenacious foothold in today's modern white wine market. A Riesling wine can span a broad range of styles, being produced in both dry to sweet variations as well as light to full-bodied. Riesling wines deliver intense aromatics with apple, peach and pear at the forefront mixed with delicate floral undertones and often honey and spice on the nose. On the palate, Rieslings echo the apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. Rieslings tend to pick up a noticeable "minerality" from their native soils, explaining why hints of slate or limestone can be exhibited.

Riesling with Food: Riesling is a rock-star when it comes to outstanding food pairing ability.  Not one to be pinned down to a single realm of cuisine or preparation style, the off-dry Rieslings will take to everything from spicy curries to shredded pork or fish tacos, and Cajun to Asian dishes, all the way to shellfish, fried fish, and smoked fish.

Roasted pork, poultry, and veggies, along with hard to match salads with acidic dressings, and a tremendous array of appetizers will play particularly well with the slightly sweet styles of Riesling.

Wine #2: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc Producers to Consider: Angeline, Astrolabe, Dog Point, Cakebread, Cloudy Bay, Giesen, Grgich Hills, Hall, Kalinda, Kim Crawford, Ritual, Robert Mondavi, Robert Oatley, Veramonte, Villa Maria

Sauvignon Blanc in the glass:  Ranging from the traditional pale yellow colored profile in France and New Zealand to more golds and gloss from optional oak-aging in the U.S., Sauvignon Blanc creates a full medley of aromas, with an emphasis on orchard fruit, citrus, and herbal undertones. These fabulous smells are typically reflected on the palate (sans the fresh-cut grass), with the additional texture-driven components. Most often found with a dry, medium-body, fantastic acidity, and crisp, clean finish, Sauvignon Blanc runs a little leaner in cool climate zones.

Sauvignon Blanc with Food: Providing extraordinary pairings with a variety of fresh-herb inspired dishes, roasted seasonal veggies, pungent goat cheese (stuffed in sweet red peppers and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), as well as a slew of shellfish recipes, or well-seasoned chicken dishes, and creative vegetarian fare (including the tough to pair duo of asparagus and artichokes), the international styles of Sauvignon Blanc bring some serious synergy to the pairing glass.

Wine #3: Chardonnay

Chardonnay Producers to Consider: Beringer, Catena, Chateau Montelena, Clos du Bois, Grgich Hill, Hess, Joel Gott, Kalinda, Lincourt, Mer Soleil, Mercer Canyons, Periano Estates, Rombauer, Robert Mondavi, Sbragia, William Hill

Chardonnay in the glass:  Chardonnay spans the color spectrum from straw yellow to golden yellow, with oak, age, and warm weather bringing the golden touch.  Dry and often found in full-bodied form, Chardonnay takes well to oak’s enduring influence.  Yet the direct relationship between oak and Chardonnay has come under considerable scrutiny, as many bulk-bottled New World Chardonnays have been the victim of “over-oaking” bringing wines that bust out of the bottle with big, buttery character and limited fruit. As the pendulum swings back to center, stunning expressions of Chardonnay with an exquisite balance between the fruit and oak are easier to access. In some instances producers intent on pushing the pendulum in the opposite direction are hitting the shelves with a surge of “unoaked” Chardonnay, exposing the grape’s unobstructed, pure fruit profile.

Chardonnay with food: Chardonnay’s fuller-body gravitates towards heavier fare, with recipes that call for cream and butter finding a delicious match with Chardonnay that has seen a bit of oak. Think lobster drenched in butter or swirling in bisque, crabcakes, roasted or baked poultry dishes, soft creamy cheese spreads, alfredo-themed pastas, and fresh shellfish.

Need a few red wines to run through a comparative wine tasting? Look no further, we've got you covered here with our top picks for red wines.