The history of white wine is something every wine lover, restaurant manager, and bar owner should know–especially for customer satisfaction. Like the history of red wine, the history of white wine gives a unique perspective on the wine we love to drink today. If you’re learning how to collect wine or how to build a wine cellar, the history of the wine you collect adds to the experience.
White wine has a lot of specifics tied to it. The types of wine glasses for white wine are unique to each type of wine. The best wines for a cocktail party often include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Wine storage for white wine is different depending on the ideal temperature for each case of wine.
All that goes to say, white wine has so many particular facets within the world of wine. On this BinWise blog, we’ll walk through the history of white wine, to learn where those unique facets started out.
The History of White Wine Worldwide
The history of white wine starts out in modern-Day Iran, around 3500 B.C. From there it spread around and out of that geographic area. The key to white wine is it all depends on where the grapes would grow to produce the best type of white wine.
It shares that quality with red wine. It’s all about where the climate is conducive to the right wine, from the right year, with the right process. The practices of winemaking through the years have been focused on finding that balance.
The Invention of White Wine
Archaeological evidence points to modern-day Iran being the starting point of white wine. The process involved fermenting a beverage from non-colored grape pulp. From there, white wine started to show up in Greece, in the year 460 B.C. or very near then.
The Romans borrowed from the Greek winemaking practices and started to grow grapes in the Bay of Naples and areas of Italy. It’s at this time that we begin to see the effects of growing wine grapes in the right climate.
White Wine In the 21st Century
These days we enjoy the result of all the work of ancient Greece, Rome, and everyone else who helped craft white wine. White wine is perfect for dinner parties, corporate social events, and even a corporate dinner. From the history of white wine to the present day, white wine has come a long way.
"Key Takeaway: The key to white wine is it all depends on where the grapes would grow to produce the best type of white wine."
Frequently Asked Questions About the History of White Wines
The history of white wine is something wine historians have studied for a long time. There are facts we know, and many we wonder about. The range is from white wine in ancient times to white wine we could safely drink today. There’s so much to learn about to grow our appreciation of white wine.
When we dove into the frequently asked questions about the history of white wine, we found a mix about old and modern white wine. Our answers to these questions give you a jumping-off point for learning more and continuing to enjoy white wine.
Did They Have White Wine In Ancient Times?
Yes, white wine can be traced back to ancient times. In ancient Egypt, in the third century A.D., white wine has been found in dry residue samples. The samples were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. King Tutankhamun was the antepenultimate pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt.
As wine was being made for the first time, back in B.C., white wine was starting out, even if it wasn’t called white wine. The process has been refined, and what they had in ancient Egypt was no doubt vastly different from the first wines.
What Is the Oldest White Wine?
The oldest white wine is the 1540 Steinwein. It’s the last bottle from a vintage that remains a legend in the world of wine. The 1540 Steinwein was once kept in the wine cellars of King Ludwig of Bavaria. These days, the bottle is a highlight of the cellar tour in the Bürgerspital in Germany.
The interesting thing about really old wines is that they’re still, technically, drinkable. Unless bottle shock occurs, wine lasts for ages and ages. It’s rumored the oldest bottle of red wine, which predates the oldest white wine, would still be ingestible. That said, it probably wouldn’t taste great.
Which Came First, Red or White Wine?
It’s likely that red wine was the first wine to be invented. The earliest dates of winemaking started out as far back as 6000 B.C. in Georgia. Then it moves to Armenia in 2000 B.C. with the first winemaking facility. Those regions would have primarily had access to wine grape vines that would produce red wine.
A phrase that gets tossed around the world of wine a lot is the rich history of red wine. It’s common for a reason, red wine has been a staple of the wine world for as long as wine has been made. That said, white wine has been worked on since ancient times and is equally rich in terms of flavor and history.
Why Is White Wine Served First?
White wine is served first because it has fewer tannins than red wine. That means that white wine leaves your palate with less of an impact. White wine is served first everywhere, from dinner parties with mocktails and aperitifs to a wine tasting party.
The order wine is served mirrors the order in which meals are often served. For a meal, you start with appetizers–maybe the best Mexican appetizers. Then there’s a salad course. From there you get into the deep flavorful dishes. For a wine course, it’s a similar idea. The white wine fits the place of appetizers and a light salad, then you get into the rich red wine types.
Why Don’t You Swirl White Wine?
This question is a bit of a misnomer. Technically you can swirl white wine, even if it isn’t always standard practice in a wine tasting room. Swirling wine as part of the tasting process is done to aerate the wine and show off the legs. Red wine typically benefits more from the process, but white wine can absolutely be swirled and enjoyed.
Because of the lower tannin amount in white wine, it needs less aeration. In fact, a sommelier or wine connoisseur might tell you white wine doesn’t need an aerator to be enjoyed. They’d be right, technically, but if you want to swirl your white wine and enjoy the bouquet and whatever legs it has, go right ahead.
White Wine’s History: In Ancient Times There Was Plenty to Wine About
The history of white wine is important knowledge for every restaurant, wine bar, brunch cafe, and bar business. It ties into the reason we have the white wine types available today. If you’re working as wait staff or a food and beverage director in the hotel industry, wine history is something to know.
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