Red And White Wine—What’s The Difference?

Glasses of red and white wines near a cheese board

Most of us know to pair steak with red wines and salmon with white wines, but do you know the difference between the two beyond the usual pairings? We’re guessing; the answer is no. 

Before heading to your next red and white wine tasting, here’s everything you need to know to impress the sommelier! 

The Grapes Are Different

One of the most fundamental differences between red and white wines is the grapes used to make them. In the case of most traditional wines, red grapes are used to produce red wine, while white wine is produced from white grapes. However, this isn’t necessarily the case all the time. 

This is especially important to remember when you consider that almost all wine types originally came from the same grape species, i.e., Vitis vinifera. These used to be black grapes that underwent a natural mutation, resulting in the first white grapes in history. 

Moreover, the grape juice itself is clear regardless of the color of the grapes. Red wine gets its red shade from the skin of the grapes since it has a different wine-making process. 

The Production Process Isn’t the Same, Either 

The wine-making process for red and white wines becomes distinctly different in some parts of the wine production journey. Once the grapes are picked, they’re sent to the cellar to begin production. 

The production process begins with fermentation for both types of wine. However, for red wine, the grapes are fermented with the skin and seeds intact (the skin of the grapes is where the red wine gets its rich color!). For the white wine, the skin and seeds are removed. This is the general process that’s followed for most wines, but it may differ in the case of some rare varieties such as the Blanc de Noirs, which is a wine that’s made from red grapes but looks like white wine because it’s created the way white wines are created. 

Similarly, some white wine varieties are known as orange wines. They’re white wines but are fermented like red wines and are, therefore, similar to red wines in taste. 

They Have Distinct Flavor Profiles 

Red and white wines both have distinct flavor profiles. The difference in flavors comes from the types of grapes used and the wine-making process used. Red wines are typically richer, with velvety notes and a softness in the overall flavor profile. On the other hand, white wines are floral and fruits and have a zesty acidity that works beautifully with certain delicate foods.

The oxidization levels also define the flavor profiles during wine-making. When red wines are oxidized, they lose the fruity notes and become rich and smooth with an underlying nutty flavor. On the other hand, white wines are not as exposed to oxygen and are typically kept in stainless steel tanks as opposed to oak barrels. This helps the white wines retail the fruitiness. 

Large steel tanks place in a rowThat’s about all you need to know when it comes to the differences between red and white wines. Of course, if you’d like to learn more, you can take our winery tours in Texas. As one of the best Texas Hill Country Estate wineries, we offer everything from wine tours to wine tastings and wines. 

Check it all out!

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