How Does Red Wine Get Its Color
Red wine gets its color from the skin of the grapes but the juice itself is colorless. The main
pigments in red wine are Anthocyanins and tannins. These compounds also play a vital part in
determining the color of red wine. Red wine tends to lose its color with age.
The color of red wines – and this is true for wines generally – indicates aging, grape varieties, flavour intensity, etc. In this picture, 4 different red wines…4 different grape varieties…4 different colors.
From grape varieties and production methods, to taste profiles, and food pairings, you might be surprised at all of what makes red wine different than white wine. Wine is made with grapes (or more accurately, fermented grape juice), and red and white wines are made in different ways. Contrary to popular belief, red wine does not derive its colour from red grape juice, nor does all white wine derive its colour from white grapes.
Red colour occurs when the fermented grape juice stays in contact with the skins throughout the fermentation process, absorbing skin colour. In white wines, grape juice is separated from the skins before the fermentation process begins. The grape skin, however, remains in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation process in red wine.
The longer grape skins are in contact with juice throughout the winemaking process, the darker and deeper the color of the wine becomes. Color, flavors, and textures are all integrated in the juice because of the grape skins. The grape skins contain the majority of the pigments, and a large amount of that colour is infused into the wine as it ferments. The skins contain the majority of the good stuff that gives red wine its color, and the flesh provides mostly the juice.
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White wines can be anywhere from almost transparent to a lemony green, and, if the juice has spent sufficient time either on the skins or in barrels. You cannot make dark red wines with white grapes, but you can boost color and affect flavor with more skin time.
|Red Wine||White Wine|
|Occurs when the fermented grape juice stays in contact with the skins||Grape juice is separated from the skins before the fermentation process begins.|
|Lighter a reds color is, the less likely it is to have been aged in oak.||Sweet taste and pale yellow gold color.|
There is the great twist that certain red varieties (with deep red or purple skins and lots of anthocyanins) can be made into white wines. Blending of two or more varieties of grapes can account for some wines colour, such as adding rubies for an increased crimson.
However, you cannot really make red wines out of white grapes, but by using maceration (which white wines rarely receive a lot of — if any) you can make orange wines out of white grapes — more on that in a moment. Wine made with the grapes black (which are really a variety of shades of red or blue) spending considerable time in contact with juice makes red wine. Rose wines are made more commonly from red grapes, the red pigments contained in the grape skins are not fully extracted and dissolved in the juice, giving them various shades of pink. The intensity of the pink colour is obtained by crushing the grapes lightly, leaving the juice in contact with the skin for short periods of time in order to extract only sufficient colour to obtain the desired pink colour.
Because the pigments are located in the drupes, not the grape juice, the colour of the wine depends on the vinification technique and how long the must is left in contact with these skins, a process called maceration. The must is then transferred into the wine press, which separates the grape skins and seeds from the juice, as well as crushing the skins to extract any compressed wine. Many vintners will allow the must to cool down for one to two days, a process known as cold soak, in order to extract all color and flavour components from the grape skins before creating alcohol.
Note that the wines that are high in solubilities will often be lower in color because so2 will bond to pigments, making it partly lost some of its colour intensity. Wines with a higher acidity (low pH) tend to be more strongly red, whereas wines that are less acidic have a greater amount of shades of blue, making them tend toward a purple colour. Wines that are a shade redr in color are lower pH; whereas those that are closer in hue to blue in color are higher pH. Wines that exhibit violet colored evocations are in the 3.4-3.6 pH range, with an average for acidity.
If you view a red wine in natural light, against a white background, you get a fairly accurate idea about its type of red. The wine in your glass might even taste a bit sour, and this is because the lighter a reds color is, the less likely it is to have been aged in oak.
Lightly-colored red wines are associated with lighter, less-tannic reds, and typically have lower body and alcohol than darker ones. This is also why bigger, fuller, more fruity reds, such as most malbecs in Argentina, for instance, tend to be deeper in color compared with the more acidic wines of colder climates, such as pinot noir or Beaujolais. The result is that lighter-skinned grapes, such as Pinot Noir, yield fresher, more vibrant styles of reds, while heavier-skinned grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, produce greater strength and concentrated wines.
When considering Cabernet sauvignon, grapes that have a very thick skin, then compare it with a thin-skinned pinot noir, both show great reds, but the thickness of cabernet sauvignons skin allows the winemakers to achieve that deep, bright ruby-red that winemakers are known for. Full-bodied red wines such as cabernet sauvignon are deep in color and showcase fruits such as blackcurrants, dark cherries, and plums.
Red wines are also available in a greater diversity of colors and shades, as highlighted by the graphic below (no fewer than 48 different shades are mentioned here). Each variety of red grape will express the colour slightly different, and a number of variables will influence colour, such as co-pigmentation, sulfur additions, and so on. Studying a wines color can pretty much tell you a lot of things, from the varietals used, its geography, to how old the wine is. Many sommeliers and wine experts rely on a wines color, which helps them to determine what kind of grape they are going to take.
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Most people are totally unaware of the fascinating insights that they can get simply from looking at a wines color. Next time you are looking into a glass of wine, try and determine the shades and intensities of the wine, and check if the characteristics of the wine match up with how it looks. Looking at the color of the wine gives an initial impression, thus determining its potential, whether it will be boozy or lack balance.
What determines a wine’s color?
The presence of acids in the wine affects color. As wine ages, it is changed through interactions between various active molecules. These interactions typically result in the browning of the wine, which turns it from red to a more tawny tint.
Why does wine turn your teeth purple?
When you consume red wine, your teeth may take on a subtle purple hue. This type of beverage may cause your teeth to eventually turn more brown, blue, dull, or purple over time. The reason red wine stains teeth is because it includes acids, tannin, and natural pigments that can scrape and discolour teeth.
Should you brush your teeth after red wine?
When you’ve consumed something acidic, your finish, which protects your teeth, becomes significantly softer. In order to properly clean your teeth after consuming an acidic beverage like red wine, you should drink a glass of water to flush your mouth and wait for 30 to an hour before attempting to wash your teeth.