It’s not just colour that separates white and red wine. There’s much more to it than that. The differences between them go far beyond just the grapes. There are many fascinating facts about the intrinsic differences between red and white wine. Granted, they are produced with different grapes of different colours. The different grapes give the wine its name, with popular varieties of reds including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. On the other hand, famous white wines include Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Very often a bottle of wine is named after the region where the grapes grow. The differences in their preparation are fundamentally opposed, which is why they look and taste as they do. Wine has been a favourite drink since time immemorial and was popularised by the Romans and Greeks. Today, wine is still a favourite beverage around the world, with different regions producing their own unique varieties. However, all of them have a basis in one grape type, Vitis Vinifera..
Interestingly, nearly all wines available in the marketplace come from a single variety, or species of grapes called Vitis Vinifera. Ampelographers contend that the very first Vitis Vinifera grapes were black, and used for making red wine. These grapes mutated naturally over a long period of time to finally create the very first white grapes. Examples of these grapes include Pinot Noir, which is a black grape, Pinot Gris, which is a pinkish-grey grape, and also Pinot Blanc, which is a white grape. They all share identical DNA! Strange though it sounds, Vitis Vinifera grapes are the origins of most wines today.
Different preparation processes
Red and white wine are made using different parts of the grape and entirely different processes. Once the grapes have all been picked, they are taken to the wine cellar for the winemaking process to commence. A significant difference is that red wine is fermented while still containing the seeds and skin of the grapes, which produces the unmistakable red colour of the wine. However, there are a couple of specific cases. A notable exception is a champagne wine called Blanc de Noirs, sometimes also called white of blacks. These black grapes are prepared similarly to white wine and actually end up looking like white wine as well! White Pinot d’Alsace, or Pinot Noir also end up looking like a white wine. White wines are prepared using a particular method whereby the white grapes are fermented together with their skins as well as their seeds. These types of white wines are referred to as Orange Wines. Furthermore, they taste quite similar to red wines and also contain tannin. However, this technique is somewhat rare, producing wines unlike any others. Nevertheless, the conventional methods and processes to produce standard red and white wines remains unchanged.
Different winemaking methods
Red and white wines have distinctive qualities. Reds have a softer, more vibrant, richer, and more velvety flavour. Whites have more floral aromas, zesty acidity, and pure fruit notes. Two very different winemaking methods are used to produce these results. The principal and most significant difference is the oxidation process which causes the wines to lose their unique floral and fruity notes, replacing them with rich, nutty flavours and greater smoothness. In order to increase the oxygen levels, winemakers tend to use oak barrels wherever possible and viable. They allow the wine to breathe better, ingressing oxygen as necessary. In order to reduce the wine’s exposure to oxygen, winemakers also tend to use stainless steel storage tanks, which ensures the wine retains its flower flavours and fruitiness.
Which is better, red or white wine?
So which of the two wines is better for you? There are multiple health benefits of drinking wine in moderation. Most of the health nutrients come from the skins and seeds, so many believe red wine is better for you since both are used in their preparation. Nevertheless, white wine has its own unique positives as well. White wine tends to go much better with fish and seafood, whereas red wine tastes better with meat dishes. It is not really a hard and fast rule to drink white wine with fish and red with meat and poultry, at the end of the day, it is a personal choice, and you can rest assured both offer health benefits. Having said that, not all wines are equal, and the wide variety of grapes, regions where they are grown, and different vineyards have their own systems of preparing their wines which ensures we have a great choice of delicious tasting wines, white, red and even rose.