Red or White or Not?
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Photo taken by Darren Brooks - Vino Versa

Red or White or Not?

So, how many times have you been asked, red or white wine?  Or told, I don’t like red wine, I only drink white, or I only drink red.

Is this really a good way to choose a wine?

I suppose it seems fairly logical.  Our first impression of most things is usually by sight, and a wine’s appearance can tell you a lot.  But, did you know, most grapes used to make red and white wine have clear (white) juice.  The colour in the wine comes from contact with the grape skin during fermentation.

So looks can be deceiving.  If you’ve ever had a glass of champagne, most contain chardonnay (white grape), pinot noir (red grape) and pinot meunier (red grape) and yet champagne appears as a white wine would.

The way colour in red wine is created is a little like what happens when you make a cup of tea.  The tannins and anthocyanins in the grape skins create the colour.  The longer they’re in, the more colour.

Those pink champagnes get their colour due to a little skin contact.

The same for rosé – the shade generally relates to the amount, and length, of time the juice contacts the skins, although different red varieties impart different levels of colour.

Also, some red wines may contain white grapes. Shiraz (red grape) may have a small amount of viognier (white grape) added.  This is done to improve the aroma and bouquet (smell) of a wine, changing its overall flavour.  It can also improve its colour, making it more vibrant.

Something to try: Put red and white wines in different black cups so the colour can’t be identified. Offer the wines to others and see if they can pick the colour of the wine by its flavour, without seeing it first. You will be surprised how difficult this is (blindfolds work just as well).

Next time, maybe try choosing a wine on its flavour (taste and smell), not on looks – you wouldn’t pick your friends on eye colour, would you?

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