Insights

Shades Of A Wine

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Breaking it down through the various shades of Reds, Whites, and Rosé

Studying the color of a wine can pretty much tell you about a number of things from the grape varietal used to its location and the wine’s age. You might think swirling is the first step in tasting once the wine is poured in the glass, but before that just take a look at it, as it can tell you a lot about what wine you will be drinking. Observing a wine's color give its first impression thereby determining its potential if it is going to be rich or lacking balance. Many sommeliers and wine experts rely on the color of the wine which helps them to identify the grape varietal they’re about to take in.  A basic thumb rule is, deeper the wine’s color, the richer its body.

Use these tips to observe a wine correctly

  • Hold your glass of wine against a white background, as this will help you see the hue of the color more easily.
  • Tilt the glass forward against the white background as this will allow the light to pass through the wine and reveal its shade with more precision.
  • Most importantly, don’t fill your wine glass too much as the smaller the pour the better the color is revealed. 

Shades of Red Wine

If the wine in your glass is light red, nearly approaching to pink, it should taste light. It may even be a little tart tasting and that is because the lighter the red color is, the less likely that it was aged in oak. Young red wines start out as varying shades of ruby or crimson. Because red wines are fermented on the skins, and the color comes from the skins. As the hue of the red wine gets darker, nearing the colors of maroon and purple, the red will become much bolder and richer. As red wines age, the rim takes on a garnet hue, then the wine evolves to a brick brown color. The level of extraction during fermentation also influences the depth of color in red wine. More extraction makes for deeper colored wines.

1. Pinot Noir- Ruby

A light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir is bright or ruby in color. It is the lightest of the red wine varietals. Some Pinot Noirs can be translucent with minimal color extracted from the grape. It has an intense flavor packed with red cherry fruits. Pinot Noirs can sometimes bring out herbaceous notes.

2. Tempranillo-Garnet

This medium-bodied variety pairs well with different foods. It has a garnet color which may vary from purple tones to orange tones. This vibrant rouge variety can derive from a combination of plum, and cherry fruit flavors. The palate is soft with flavors of mulberry, tart red fruits, and cherry supported by mild tannins.

3. Shiraz- Violet/ Deep Purple

Although Shiraz can vary in color from deep purple to deep red, the common element it shows off is the purple in its color. This wine is so dark that if you hold a wine glass in the light, you might have a hard time seeing through it. It can be heavy with mouth-drying tannins. The wine is full of complexities and features flavors like berries, pepper and also smoked meat.

4. Cabernet Sauvignon- Deep Ruby

Full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon are deeply colored and express fruits like blackcurrant, dark cherry and plum.  Their darker color often indicates a possible presence of higher tannins. The dense palate expands with spicy smoky notes. These wines are highly extracted and opaque.

Shades of White Wine

White wines tend to range in color starting from pale yellow to various shades of gold. Start by looking at the shade of yellow, is it very light, nearly clear, or is it deep in color approaching gold color? Light white wines that you can see through have had minimal contact with the grape skins. These wines have not been aged in an oak barrel. They are usually crisp and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day. As white wines age the color deepens, moving through shades of gold to deep amber.

1. Pinot Grigio- Pale Yellow

Pinot Grigio is light on the palate, as its slight hints of lemon and pear finish with steely character. The pear and green apple flavor follow through from the nose to the palate with nuances of mineral and floral notes also evident. It is an easy drinking and food friendly wine because of its light weight and balance.

2. Sauvignon Blanc- Pale Gold/ light yellow

A wine that’s full of tart citrus and grassy notes, perfect for a hot summer day, this variety yields a pale-lemon or pale gold-colored wine. Sauvignon Blanc depending on where it is grown is predominantly a medium bodied wine with hints of green. It is ideal to grow Sauvignon Blanc in cooler climates as it does not enjoy hot climates. It exhibits more of the pale gold or light yellow color and has herbaceous flavors like gooseberry, bell pepper, and jalapeno.   

3. Chardonnay- Gold

Chardonnay can start from a light yellow color and extend through a richer yellow color if it is aged properly in oak barrels. Oak allow a small amount of oxygen to come into contact with the wine, which enhances its color and produces buttery flavors.

4. Semillon- Deep Gold

Semillon is one of the noble grape varieties that can age very well. This variety is perhaps best known for the dark, honey-colored dessert wines made from it. Young Semillon wines tend to be lighter in color but as they age can take on a wonderful gold hue. Noble rot and the drying of the grapes raise the sugar content while deepening color.

Shades of Rosé Wine

Rosé wines range in color from pale pink to deep salmon. As Rosé wines age, the color fades to orange. The intensity of the rosé color is obtained when the grapes are gently crushed and the juice is left in contact with the skins for short time to extract just enough color to achieve the desired ‘pink’ hue.

1. Merlot- Pale Blush

It is light in color and palate. A flinty nose gives way to tea leaves and minerals on a palate that’s otherwise shy of fruit. The wine develops its fine, complex aroma in the glass: its rounded acidity makes it the perfect companion for every occasion.

2. Shiraz- Blush

Rosé of Shiraz tends to be more on the bolder end of the spectrum. This can be a good choice with pizza. It has notes of strawberry, cherry and white pepper

3. Tempranillo- Salmon

With this style of rosé, you can expect a pale pink hue and herbaceous notes of watermelon, strawberry and meaty notes reminiscent of fried chicken. Tempranillo rosé is growing in popularity from the Rioja region and other parts of Spain.

4. Petite Verdot- Deep Salmon

It is concentrated and full of flavors. What you get on the nose, you also get on the palate, flavors of red fruits like cherry, strawberry, etc.are exhibited. 

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