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What Are the Different Colors of Wine?

Explore What Affects Different Wine Color

You may be wondering which type of Chardonnay or Cabernet wine you should buy? Not sure if it will be rich or lean? Check out the following handy guide for some easy clues that lie within the color of the wine!

Different colors of wine can signify the flavor you can expect, the amount of acidity, the age of the wine, and what grape varieties are included in the wine.

The color differentiation can all be confusing, which is why we put together this guide on types of wine colors and what they mean.

What Color is Wine?

You may think that wine is only available in three colors – red, white, and pink (rosé). This common misconception is due to the setting in which wine is usually consumed (think dark restaurants and in front of the TV with no other light sources). 

To see the color wine offers, you’ll need a white background and good lighting as your first step towards being a wine connoisseur.

Wine’s color comes in a large array of tints, ranging from a pale yellow to various pink shades and, on the other end, a deep purple. Observing the subtle undertones, whether a beautiful gold hue, purple hues, or green hues, will offer insight into your favorite wines.

What Gives a Wine Its Color?

Multiple factors go into creating the color of wine ranging from the type of soil it’s grown in, the region it’s produced in, the wine’s age, whether the skin of grapes is included in the process, and the color of the grape skins. Red and white wines each gather their colors due to the different ingredients, ways they are processed, and of course, the grape skin colors.

David Akiyoshi Rose of Pinot Noir 2020, California
David Akiyoshi Rose of Pinot Noir 2020, California

What Gives White Wines Color The Color?

White wine is created from green grapes. Here’s where the magic in creating white wine lies. There’s a significant difference in the process where the grape skin is typically taken off before fermentation. This removal allows for white wine to have a light color that is almost clear.

Other factors that alter the color and add a yellow or light green color include fermenting with the skins (like pinot grigio) and aging the wine in a barrel.

Don’t worry if your wine is slightly green; it’s normal! These factors are in addition to the soil and region of the wine grapes, which can also alter the taste and create mineral and floral notes.

What Gives Red Wines The Color?

Red wine does share similarities in its coloring process. Darker grapes, of course, yield a darker color of the wine. The coloring itself that is present in reds is called anthocyanin. This flavanol is the same type of pigment that is in cherries and plums.

Each variety of red grapes create a slightly different color in red wine. The color is also affected by the amount of time the grape skins are fermented with the juice. 

For example, a lighter color in red wine usually indicates a light-bodied red wine (like pinot noir). This description generally means the wine has a lower alcohol content and has fewer tannins, aka less dry red wine bottles.

Of course, like white wine, soil inclusions and regions also affect the color of red wine.

winc white wine
winc white wine

What Influences a Grape Color?

Grape color is influenced mainly by two elements: the grape’s environment and its type.

Growing a grape at a temperature that is too hot for that variety can cause the color of the grape. This also impacts the wine color. PH, amount of water, and the size of the grape are additional factors that can change the grapes’ color.

What Happens to the Color of Grapes During Fermentation?

When extracting juice from grapes, a lighter color appears. As the wine ages, the color deepens and darkens until day seven, when it’s reached maximum intensity.

After this period, the wine slowly starts lightening in color unless it is barrel-aged. In which case, the color deepens as the wine sits in the barrel.

Different Colors of Wine Types

So, what are the different colors of wine types? What can you expect when you grab your favorite sauvignon blanc or cabernet sauvignon? 

The main types of red wine varietals and white wine varietals are described below with the standard colors.

Main Red Wine Colors

  • Light-bodied red wines provide a ruddy color and the lowest acidity of the red wine variety. Here is where pinot noirs come in again.
  • Medium-bodied red wines typically emit a violet color. Merlot is an excellent example of a medium-bodied red wine.
  • Full-bodied red wines provide blue and deep purple tones of color like in shiraz.
  • Old red wines vary from a brick red color to an orangey-red color depending on aging time like port and malbec.
  • Rosé is actually in a separate wine color category. It’s neither a red nor white wine, though it originates from red grapes. Rosé has a wide range varying from light pink to a darker, deep pink hue.

Main White Wine Colors

  • Light-bodied white wines are known for having a nearly transparent color; young Semillon wines tend to fall into this category.
  • Sweet wines or dessert wines often present a light yellow color like Riesling and white zinfandel.
  • Full-bodied white wines are generally a light honey color, such as chardonnay or muscat.
  • Old white wines offer an amber color, and it’s challenging to find this type of white wine, though they do exist. White wine, unlike red, is intended to be consumed when it’s “young” for the best flavor.

Final Notes

After reading through this guide on different colors of wine, you can be sure you’re well on the way to better understanding the world of wine.

Whether you’re seeking knowledge to impress your friends, find better wine matches for yourself, or become a wine collector, you’ve come to the right place.

Check out our blog to get some more interesting facts and tips about the fantastic world of wine.

Moreover, our website features many wine club reviews. Opt for one of the wine club’s reviews, like Firstleaf or Winc, or our reviews on the best international, local, or affordable wine clubs. This way, you won’t even need to leave the house to the local wine store for that end-of-day glass of wine.

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