Are you new to wine and curious to know about it in detail? Which wine would you prefer? Red or White? It can get quite confusing without the right facts. Our intent is to provide you with all the facts pertaining to red wine and white wine. Grab a cup of coffee because your doubts or questions if any are going to get answered. Right from the colour of the grapes to tannins to food pairing, we have got it covered for you.
Difference between red wine and white wine starts with the colour of the grapes. The grapes of red wines are dark-coloured and have more pigment. So the red colour comes from where? On the other hand, the white grapes are green, yellow and straw in colour.
The Fermentation Process
There is not much difference between red wine and white wine when it comes to winemaking. Grapes are fermented along with their skins for red wines whereas white wine undergoes fermentation process without the skins. So to answer the aforementioned question. The red colour in red wines comes from a pigment called anthocyanin which is found in the skin of the grapes. Since this pigment is the reason for the colour, white wines can be made using red grapes without the skin. The term for such wines is – ‘Blanc de noirs’. This French term means “white wine from red grapes”. Champagne is a white wine which also uses two red grape varieties – Pinot Noir and lesser-known Pinot Meunier.
The post-fermentation process influences the colour of red wines ranging from red to deep purple. Wines which flaunt deeper red colour have lower pH and are higher in acidity. The colour of white wines can vary from pale straw to deep gold. Red wine white wine differs in terms of ageing is – reds are usually aged in oak barrels and whites in stainless steel.
Alcohol Level in Red Vs White
Have you ever thought about the alcohol content in wine? Where does it come from? Generally, red wines have a higher alcohol content as compared to white wines. It depends on the sugar content present in the grapes at the time of harvest. Red grapes are picked much later in the harvest period than the whites and have higher sugar content. The fermentation process converts this sugar into alcohol. If you allow the process to complete its course, you will get a dry red. Stop the fermentation process early, the residual sugar in the wine will give you a sweet red wine.
Tannins also affect the sweetness level in the wines. They are natural compounds known as polyphenols that are present in the grape skins as well as in the seeds. They are bitter in taste and add complexity to the wine. Have you ever tasted black tea? It has a lot of tannins too. The drying sensation that you feel after a sip is the result of the tannins. They are usually found in red wines. White wines have lower tannins as compared to the reds.
Worried about Calorie Intake?
Are you calorie conscious when it comes to wine? The calories in wine depend on two factors – alcohol and sugar. But the primary source of calories is alcohol. It can happen that a dry wine with a high alcohol level has more calories than a low alcohol level, sweet wine. So it is imperative to pay attention to both the factors before choosing a wine.
Wines with low alcohol and sweetness level have less calories. While sweet and high alcohol wine have more calories. Then, there are fortified wines such as Madeira, Marsala and Sherry which have high alcohol content. Generally, red wines have more calories, owing to the alcohol and sweetness level in them than white wines. A 6 oz serving of white wine under 6% – 9% ABV ( Alcohol by Volume) will have 111 – 147 cal. Whereas the same amount of red wine under 11 – 13.5 ABV will have 135 – 165 cal.
Wine & Food Pairing
Planning a barbeque at home? Or a party? Red wines are well-paired with red meats. A glass of Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon would go perfectly with steak or lamb. When it comes to cheese, red wines match with stronger cheese like Shiraz with smoked gouda or Cabernet with aged cheddar. White wines are light and elegant. Therefore, they are ideal companions for appetisers and salads. It goes along with seafood dishes and white meats such as veal, chicken and turkey. You can enjoy Cabernet Blanc with shrimp, crabs and lobster or Chardonnay with roasted chicken.
We have covered the major red wine white wine differences. Stay tuned for more posts about wines. Happy drinking!