What makes a red wine red?

What’s the main difference between red and white wine? Generally, white wine is thought to be less complex, but what is the real difference between red and white wine?
Well, the juice of all grapes, red or white, is basically colorless. The skins give the red wine their color, like how a teabag colors your water. We’ll talk about this later when we talk about winemaking.
In Champagne, 2 of the 3 varietals are red - and yet most champagne is white!

In Champagne, 2 of the 3 main grape varietals are red – and yet most champagne is white!  © Winerist

 

What else does red wines have that white doesn’t?

Tannin. Tannin is the thing that makes your mouth feel dry after you drink a red wine. Its sometimes like when the dentist puts a bunch of cotton in your mouth. Tannins add a different texture to red wine that white wine doesn’t have. Tannins are a preservative in wine and are found in wine skins, seeds, and stems. Tannin is found in many plants – have you ever felt the drying sensation after eating walnuts? That is tannin!
Eat a walnut...that dryness you feel is tannin!

Eat a walnut…that dryness you feel is tannin!

Finally, red and white wines tend to have different flavor and aroma components:
- Red wines tend to have more red and black fruit flavors
- White wines will have more citrus, tropical, and tree fruit flavors.

How to describe the wine colors ?

Remember this:
- Each varietal has its own color signature.
- Each climate (warm or cold) have its own color signature, even for the same grape varietal
- Depending on the age of the wine (Young Vs. Old) the color won’t be the same.
Red Wine Color Scale White Wine Color Scale