WHY IS WHITE WINE WHITE, RED, RED? ORANGE, ORANGE?
15 Jul 2021
We’ve had a few people in store asking about our ‘rainbow’ selection of wines, and why they are all so different in appearance, so I’ve written a brief and very simple explanation to give you an idea why and how different styles of wines achieve their finished colour.
First things first, grape juice is clear. If you take a freshly picked red grape and squeeze it, the juice that runs out will look like water. My point here is that colour in all wines comes from the skins, seeds and racchi aka the bunches that hold together the berries.
White wine production involves separating the skins, seeds and bunches from the juice inside, via immediate pressing, after which point the skins are composted or distilled.
Red wine is red by macerating the juice with the skins and seeds. Think of the juice as water and the skins and seeds like a tea bag. The longer the teabag is in the water (maceration), the darker and more tannic the tea, for argument's sake, the same thing applies to red wine making. With this maceration period, tannins and other phenolic compounds are extracted also. !!!Science chat!!! - Phenolics are chemical compounds that affect the taste, feel and color of wine. Tannins are part of what gives a wine structure, and they have a part in the aging potential of wine. They don't have so much a flavor as a feeling.
Traditionally, rose wines are made using just a short maceration period, hence their lighter colour, in some cases this could be just a matter of hours. Winemakers will press the macerating grapes as soon as their desired colour is reached, side note; if you're ever in a winery during vintage and have the opportunity to smell a rose ferment, get your schnose in there. It's just the amazingist smell ever.
The orange wines category? Currently amidst a bit of a renaissance, these are white wine grapes that have been made as red. Essentially the degree of orange depends on the colour of the skins (Pinot Gris has pink skins and will produce a different coloured finished wine to say, green skinned sauvignon blanc.) . The line at which a wine goes from white to orange, is somewhat metaphorical, but note orange wine is a winemaking technique more than it is a guarantee of ‘orange’ colour. As a loose rule, think shorter maceration = more tropical, longer maceration more savoury and phenolic ;)
Anywho, we stock all these flavours and more, have a peruse online or pop by the shop!