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Wine’s True Colors

Wine’s True Colors

Laurita Winery , Wine Science , Wine Weirdness 🕔August 25, 2016 2 comments

The first and most noticeable thing about any wine is its color. Everyone knows that you divide wine by color – red, white, or rose… and sometimes blue.

Glass of red, pink and white wine

But how often do you actually examine the shade of color? Is your red garnet? Maybe a kind of reddish orange? And how about the whites? Golden or greenish or straw colored are all normal. And maybe you’ve never paid attention. (It wasn’t even one of the steps to wine wisdom.)

And why should you worry about nuances of color? You’re going to drink it, not paint with it (ideally). Does the color actually signify anything?

Well, in a word, yes.

So take a close look at your wine. You should hold it in front of a white background for this, to observe the true color of the wine. What can you learn?


The color of your wine is influenced by the particular type of grapes used. Dense, dark-hued reds indicate tannic grapes like Cabernet or Syrah, while lighter, more translucent reds like Pinot Noir come from less tannic grapes. Also, as a general rule, red wines get lighter with age.

Whites, on the other hand, are visually affected by storage in oak barrels. Think golden Chardonnay. Storage in stainless steel gives you something like a pale greenish Chablis. And white wines tend to get darker with age.

So you can get some information from the color of wine. You’ll have a sense of how oaky or tannic a wine will be. You can guess at age. And if you start observing color regularly, you’ll start to notice variations and shades. You’ll also learn what to look for and avoid, based on your personal preferences, when choosing wine.

Oh. And there is one more interesting bit of info you may be able to glean from careful observation of your wine…


Namely, how bad might the morning after your wine work out?

See, there are some indications that the color of your wine might affect the intensity of your hangover.

“The percentage of alcohol is one factor: White wines usually contain between 9 to 14 percent, like a German Riesling, which has 8 to 9 percent, whereas reds can contain between 12-16 percent.”

Also, a recent study examined the effect of cogeners (which are compounds that give a drink color and flavor) for possible impact on hangover severity. They found that drinkers with colored beverages suffered from worse hangovers. And red wine tends to be higher in both tannins and histamines, both of which can be irritating to people with sensitivities.

Long story short, color does matter. You can learn things about your wine before you ever raise your glass.

And you may learn you need to take it easy.

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