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Hollywood and Vine: the Whites

By Heather Irwin

Unlike their salacious red wine sisters, white wine gals put out a vibe that's a bit more buttoned-up. They're the good girls that please just about everyone and mix delightfully well with others. Maybe sometimes they're a little precious, a little sweet, but they're versatile and always fun at a party. In a fit of post-holiday boredom, I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out which A-list starlets were like some common wine varietals; last week, we did reds. But think about it--wouldn't you rather drink a nice, round Jessica Alba or a crisp and pouty Nicole Kidman than, say, something called Gewürztraminer? We thought so.

Chardonnay Chardonnay is the white wine just about everyone likes at some level. It comes in a variety of styles; from oaked and buttery to crisp and fruity, making it a bit hard to love all the time. Lately, it's gotten a bit of a bad rap, mostly for being overly made-up with heavy flavorings by eager-beaver winemakers. We forgive her, however, because everyone takes on a bad role once in a while. The tide is shifting, however, back to simplicity in Chardonnays. And that's a good thing, because at its heart, Chardonnay is a classic, elegant wine that looks best in a simple black dress without a whole lot of extra accessories dangling about. Chardonnay ladies: Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gewürztraminer Her radiating sweetness and floral perfume enter the room before she does. One of the most pungent grapes, there's no missing Gewürtz, with her rose, peach and mango aromas and often super sweet flavor. A bit precious at times, often to a fault, Gewürztraminer can be hard to take in large doses. However, when she's handled right, she can be heart-breakingly lovely and an object of the most intense desire. Gewürztraminer girls: Renee Zellweger, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon.

Riesling One of the most complex whites, Riesling is often a connoisseur's favorite, with elements of apple, mineral and floral mixed together in surprising and delightful ways. Described by some as "racy," Riesling marches to her own drummer, expressing both her assets and faults without apology (think of Sarah's nose or Kate's "fat" postbaby stage). Riesling is also a wine that knows where she came from, expressing a sense of terroir better than many other whites. Though she has been mishandled a few times, with sickeningly sweet results, Riesling at her best is clean, crisp and complex with a mature sense of where she's come from and where she's going. Riesling ladies: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson.

Sauvignon Blanc Uptight, maybe a little prissy? OK, perhaps. Sauvignon Blanc is the true good girl of wines. She's crisp and dry, maybe a bit acidic at times, but always in control of her emotions and never overblown. Sweet? Not her. More likely described as a bit stand-offish, she has an inherent grace and beauty that many admire, but few truly understand. Like most other whites, Sauvignon Blanc doesn't need a lot of oak or other heavy makeup to shine; in fact, she's at her very finest completely nude. Not naked, mind you--that would be tacky. Instead, she runs through the wildflowers in a gauzy Victorian nightgown--a prim princess unequalled in majesty. Sauvignon Blanc damsels: Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett.

Viognier Viognier is the wild card of the white world. It's certainly dry and refined for the most part, but often smacks you upside the head with a tropical kick of bananas, pineapple, apricots and citrus. Unafraid of being a little bit obvious in her intentions, Viognier is curvy and flirtatious, but won't put out on a first date. Va Va Viognier vixens: Jessica Alba, Uma Thurman.

From the January 18-24, 2006 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

© 2006 Metro Publishing Inc.

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