Wine Color

Wine color tells how wine was made and may tell wine’s age and its quality.

Color of wine comes from color of the grapes, but not in way many people think.

When grapes are pressed, juice from nearly every grape variety is white or clear. This is true of both red and white grapes.

To make red wine, winemakers leave red-pigmented grape skins in contact with the juice

When red grapes are pressed and skins removed from the fermentation vessel, the color of the wine remains white and is called “blanc de noirs”—white wine from red grapes.

White wines usually do not have grape skin contact during fermentation, and thus retain color of the juice.

Rosé and blush wines can be made by leaving skins in the fermenting vessel for a short period, but it is hard to produce consistent color with this method, so rosé and blush more often are made by adding red wine to an already finished white wine.

Here’s what color may say about a wine:

White wine color (Usually means)

Green-tinged (youth)

Straw (majority of dry whites are this color)

Gold (sweeter, more luscious whites)

Light-brown (wine not quite right)

Brown/amber (wine is old and oxidized; not good)

Red wine color (Usually means)

Purple (youth)

Ruby-red (some aging)

Red (several years of aging)

Red-brown (maturity)

Mahogany (considerable age or improperly stored wine; so, either very good or very bad)

Tasting notes:

  • Blue Lotus Winery Golden Harvest Riesling NV: Honey, peach, apple; delightful stone-fruit nose; rich golden color; superb late-harvest desert wine or aperitif from Seguin. $15 (500 ml)
  • Los Pinos Ranch Vermentino 2012: Distinctive aromatics of mineral, salt; bone-dry austerity plays with sharp citrus, green apple, pinch of peach, no oak, almonds on finish; straw color, very distinctive, unmistakably not ho-hum dry white; one of few wines that pairs with artichoke. $20
  • Christoval Vineyards Petite Sirah Vintner’s Select Rambouillet 2009: Tangy, tasty, full-body, fruit-forward; black cherry, ripe plum, chocolate; dark red; dry, subdued tannin, soft mouth, meaty on palate; balancing acidity; jammy middle flows into nice finish. $35

Last round: Wine is a magic potion that makes everything you say interesting.