On the Job

Basics of White Wine for Yacht Stews

12 September 2023 By Kylie O'Brien
white wine glasses cheers

Kylie O’Brien has worked on some of the world’s most magnificent vessels with amazing people for more than 13 years. A graduate of The Australian College of Applied Psychology, she is the author of Crew Wanted, The Stewardess Bible, The Chief Stewardess Bible, The Inside Job, and has been a monthly contributor to Dockwalk magazine for more than five years.

When I think about white wine, it is always accompanied by memories of laughter, friends, and good food. My love affair with this delectable beverage started early and has been nurtured over the years, and throughout my yachting years, I was spoiled by the array of flavors, aromas, and magical scenery, which I would happily digest when visiting the vineyards.

Many people believe that white wine is the poor man’s red wine, unsophisticated and uncomplicated. But in my view, liking white wine is subjective and objective — like fine art, some believe that wine is good if they like it. However, while this subjective statement may be true, one can also agree with this objective statement that you enjoy the wine because it has been well made.

The Wonders of White Wine

So what is white wine, and why do we love it so? Last month, we mentioned that the flesh of the red wine grape is white and gets its colors by leaving the skin on during fermentation. Well, white wine is made with white grapes, with the skins removed before imparting high tannins and pigment into the juice.

Like red wine, white wine is known to be full of antioxidants and comes in various hues of white, from the light, straw color seen with a Verdejo and Pinot Grigio to the deep, gold color with the Chardonnays. In general, the color also represents the taste. So, for example, you could expect to taste fruitier fragrances with white wine that leans towards the golden spectrum. And for those wines with a greener look, you could expect to taste a more savory flavor.

This leads us to the next point, which all superyacht stewardesses should know. What are the most popular white wines? Whether your guests are wine connoisseurs or just like to follow the latest trends, they will naturally gravitate towards a favorite grape. For me, educating myself on wine knowledge was definitely a fun part of my job.

Essential Whites

Note that if you are unfamiliar with any of these grapes, I recommend doing your research. In no particular order, I recommend getting familiar with the following grape types: Sauvignon Blanc is a simple wine, light gold in color and packed with citrus and floral aromas. In general, it’s a go-to wine should your guests not be particularly bothered about what they’re drinking. Further, it’s a well-rounded wine that can be paired with a lot of different food, such as seafood, salads, and chicken.

Next on the list is the light-bodied Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris if it comes from France. Light yellow or pale green in color, it bursts with a crisp, delicate floral aroma. With a fantastic array of flavors, this wine was incredibly popular with my guests over the years and is one of the most famous wines to come out of northern Italy.

Like red wine, white wine is known to be full of antioxidants and comes in various hues of white, from the light, straw color seen with a Verdejo and Pinot Grigio to the deep, gold color with the Chardonnays.

The versatile Chardonnay cannot be overlooked and is arguably the world’s most loved grape and a favorite amongst the more learned guests on board. I use the term versatile as it can be used in a variety of menus and can be aged well in oak barrels. In terms of Old World regions, it usually comes from the Burgundy region of France. It tends to have a bolder flavor and is a deep golden color.

Reisling is next on the list. Originating in the Rhine region of Europe, this flexible grape often gets a bad rap as it is usually served to the people in the “cheap seats” at events. Further, the wine is uncomplicated and is typically consumed when young. For these reasons, the wine tends to be light in color; however, I can assure you that if you do your research, you’ll find that this humble wine is full of complex surprises. For example, Riesling is highly aromatic and can be classified as dry, off-dry, to sweet depending on the level of acidity and sweetness scale.

Last on this very essential list of must-know white wines is Sémillon. Traditionally, the golden grape Sémillion was produced in significant quantities in France’s Bordeaux region. However, in recent years, South African and Australian vineyards have embraced the Sémillion grape. This easygoing grape creates young, simple, fresh wines, with a range of bodies. It’s also used to blend with other grapes, such as Sauvignon.

Time to Serve

When it comes to serving the wine to your guests, you must understand the ideal serving temperatures. Serving the wine too cold will flatten the flavor; equally, serving the white wine too warm will bring out the harsh, earthy flavors, which lessens the wine’s sharpness and makes fruit flavors less noticeable. Ideally, the temperature to serve white wine is between 50°F to 59°F or 10°C to 15°C. I recommend chilling the wine to the colder temperature due to the warm outside temperature when cruising on the yacht. You can leave the wine in the ice bucket a little longer to decrease the temperature. Alternatively, you can place some ice cubes in the glass and swirl them around for a few minutes before tipping them out. This is a quick and easy way to chill the glass.

Finally, for helping your guests create long-lasting memories on board, there is nothing more refreshing and no more surefire way to keep that laughter flowing than to have a crisp white wine on the sun deck while watching the sun go down.

This article was orginally published in the May 2023 issue of  Dockwalk.


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