by Brooke Tolman
(last updated March 20, 2017)
Sauvignon Blanc is a green skinned grape variety grown originally in France. The grape gets its name from the French word for "savage" because it was originally an indigenous plant in South West France. It is now grown all over the world, in a wide variety of wine growing areas.
Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from grassy to sweetly tropical. Wine experts sometimes use the phrase "crisp, elegant, and fresh" when describing its flavor. Not a bad description if you ask me. Sauvignon Blanc grape vines bud late in the season but ripen early. This allows it to perform well in sunny climates but isn't overexposed to heat. Global warming has had an affect on these grapes, as the temperature is rising, farmers have had to harvest the grapes earlier in the season than they've had to in the past. These vines are quite vigorous growers, so you have to continually prune and thin the leaves in order to direct the plants energy towards the ripening fruit.
Sauvignon Blanc is a very food friendly wine. If you're going to pair this wine with food, it's best to pair it with either cheese or fish. Surprisingly, it is one of the few wines that taste great with sushi. It's terrific to pair with appetizers such as artichoke dip or veggie dishes. It is also paired quite well with white meats, other than fish, such as chicken or pork. It doesn't mix well with red meats though. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few varieties that match with mild vinegars. It depends a lot on which type of Sauvignon Blanc you're using.
Sauvignon was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screw-cap. This wine is best if consumed while still young; it doesn't take too well to aging. Temperature of fermentation has a lot to do with how the wine will turn out. French winemakers prefer warmer fermentation that brings out mineral flavors as opposed to other winemakers who prefer colder temperatures which bring out the more tropical flavors. Some New Zealand wine makers oak age their wine to help bring out the oak flavors which help to soften the naturally high acidity of the grape. Other New Zealand wine makers prefer stainless steel fermentation which keeps the flavor intense and sharp.
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