Red Wine vs White Wine: Your Ultimate Guide
At first glance, the red vs white wine debate is simply about colour and the grapes used to achieve it. But there’s a lot more that goes into it! Today our resident wine experts at Louisvale Wines have taken a break from tending the casks to give us a rundown of all things red and white wine- and you’re sure to love it! Why not crack a glass of your favourite Louisvale wine to enjoy while you read?
All Black and White
First up, did you know that the grapes we sometimes call ‘red’ grapes in the shops are properly classified as black? So all red wines are made with black grapes, and white wines from the ‘white’ grapes that look green in colour.
But that’s not the most fun part, either. Ampelographers are people who study the diverse genetics of grapes, and they have something even more fascinating to share. They believe that the very first grapes in the world were black grapes, and all others were bred from them. This means that some very different modern grape varieties share a surprising amount of DNA. For example, the ultra-dark pinot noir, the ruby pinot gris, and the white pinot blanc grapes all have a common ancestor. This original grape was called Vitis Vinifera, and the swap to white grapes is thought to have been the result of a natural genetic mutation.
While the grape variety used does matter, it’s not the only thing that determines the taste of your wine, or whether it ends up a red or a white. Expert vinters like those at Louisvale Wines use different techniques to create each wine from our cellar.
Red wines are typically fermented with the skins and seeds included, whereas whites are not- and this is where the lovely red tones you’re used to seeing actually come from. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and it inevitably makes a very exotic wine indeed. If you’ve ever had the style of champagne known as Blanc de Noirs (white of blacks), or the ‘white’ Pinot Noir (Pinot d’Alsace), you’ve sampled red grapes fermented in the white wine making style.
On the flip side, we have ‘orange wines’- white wine grapes fermented in the red style, so they have tannins and taste close to classic red wines. It’s a rarely used technique, and most interesting if you ever get a chance to sample it!
Red vs White Wine
These different varieties and grapes give two classes of wine with very different profiles. Red wines are soft, rich, and velvety. Whites bring zest and acidity to the table, with enhanced fruit notes- like those our Cape Chardonnay is known for. Some of this comes from the additional oxidation that occurs in red wines aged in oak barrels. Oak lets the wines breath, and the oxidation process reduces fruity/floral notes and instead develops richer, smoother, and nutty flavours.
The world of winemaking is a fascinating one, and the Louisvale Wines team hopes you’ve enjoyed this dip into what makes red wine vs white wine so special in the barrel!