Red Wine Vs White Wine: Do You Know the Differences?

Like many other nascent wine hobbyists, at one time or another you have probably stepped into a grocery or liquor store and made a bee-line for the red wines. After all, folks are always drinking red wine in most TV shows and movies, so you have to follow suit, right? Not necessarily! There is a lot of contention on the whole “red wine vs white wine” issue amongst wine drinkers and wine makers, so let’s explore that a bit.

At some point or another, you may have taken a bottle of wine home and were a bit overwhelmed when you first sampled it. It may have been too dry, too cold (if you put it in your refrigerator) or just simply unsatisfactory. You may have not even finished the bottle you spent all that money on! What a waste!

While no one can deny that there is something that is just sophisticated about a glass of red wine, you have to remember that most folks that regularly drink red wine are seasoned wine drinkers. These people, in general, have usually worked their way up to red wine from white wine.

So what is the difference when it comes to red wine vs white wine? Is it a matter of the color of grape that is used? What do red grapes have in them that white grapes lack?

Despite popular misconception, a wine’s color is not based on the color of grape that is used in making it. Fermentation is another color determinant, as not all grapes are fermented in the exact same way. The fermentation process and whether or not the grapes’ skin is involved gives the wine its color, not the actual color of the grape as it is pulled from the vine. Red wine is fermented with the skins from its grapes in close contact with its crushed grapes for a very specific period of time. Blush wines are fermented with the grape skins contacting the grapes only for a very brief period of time. White wine is created when during fermentation absolutely no grape skins come into contact with the crushed grapes.

Red wine, in general, will be much drier than your typical white wine because of the fact that the grape skins left on the grapes during the process of fermentation add tannin, a natural preservative, to the wine. When the grape skins are left on during the fermentation process, some of the tannin preservative leaches into the wine. Depending on the wine’s age, red wine with many tannins, such Cabernet Sauvignon, are either very harsh (in the case of younger red wines) or very smooth (in the case of older red wines).

As a budding wine hobbyist, you may find reds a little too harsh for your palate. This is perfectly acceptable and predictable! Many begin their foray into wine with sweeter white wines, then move onto blush wines, allowing them to develop a taste for the drier red wines.

How you serve your wine has a great affect on its taste. For white wines, always make sure that you serve it 10-15 minutes after removing it from your wine cooler or refrigerator (if you have been chilling it) in a tapered wine glass. For red wines, store it in a cool, dark location of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit – optimally, a wine cooler or cellar. For reds, always choose a wine glass that will let you swirl the wine in the glass as you drink it, allowing you to aerate the wine as you drink it, enhancing the flavor.

So don’t let the whole red wine vs white wine argument get you down. Many people work their way up to reds and stay there, looking down their noses at the whites. By and large, however, most will continue to enjoy both!

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