What does the colour of your wine really tell you?

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

When judging the colour of your wine you need to pour a set amount into a glass (clear glasses are your best choice – those pretty pink ones might affect the appearance of the wine) and judge it against a white background – a white table, wall or piece of paper works fine.

Tilt the glass at an angle to judge the colour and the intensity – the colour at the centre of the wine will be deeper than at the rim.

Where does the colour come from?

Have you ever peeled a red grape?

No? Lucky you. Any amateur or professional chef can tell you it is a right pain in the fingers.

Anyone who has done a WSET L1 Wine course will probably tell you the same. So, if you’re feeling masochistic come down to try peeling some grapes at one of our wine courses. (https://www.thedrinkschool.co.uk/online-wset-award-in-wines). It’s really more about the wine – peeling grapes is only the first couple of minutes or so.

But, if you do ever decide to peel a red grape, you will find that your fingers, tablecloth and napkins can become stained.

This is because all of the colour for wine comes from the pigments in the grapes – colour is then extracted from the grape during the winemaking process.

Simply put - white wine is made from white grapes (mainly) with no skin contact, rose is made from black grapes with a small amount of skin contact and red wine from black grapes with a longer amount of skin contact. Orange wine is a white wine made from white grapes with skin contact, so, just like red wine.

Some grape varieties have more colour than others – a Pinot Noir or Gamay is going to be lighter in colour than a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec.

The winemaker can decide on how much colour to extract from the grapes depending on the style of wine they’re looking to produce.