Red Vs White Wine: What Is The Difference?

Most people are aware of the basic differences between red wine and white wine – they have different colours and are made from different grapes.

The differences stretch much further than just that, however. Here are the real differences between red vs white wine.


Made Using Different Grapes

The key difference between the two wines is that red wines are made using red grapes and white wines are made using white grapes.

The interesting thing about this difference is that most of the wines you find on the market were originally made from a single species of grape called the Vitis vinifera.

Ampelographers believe that Vitis vinifera grapes were originally black grapes, such as those used to make red wine, and that they naturally mutated into white grapes.

Did you know, for example, that Pinot Noir (black grapes), Pinot Blanc (white grapes), and Pinot Gris (pinkish-grey grapes) all share the same DNA?


Made From Different Parts Of Grapes

Once the grapes are picked and packed and ready to turn into wine, they undergo different processes to become red wine or white wine.

One key difference between the production methods is that red wines are fermented with grape seeds and skins while white wines aren’t.

This is because the colour of red wine comes from the skin and seeds of the grapes used to make it. There are some special causes where red wines are made differently and it produces an entirely unique flavour profile.

For example, the “Blanc de Noirs” (white of blacks) Champagne is made like white wine. The result is a red wine that looks like white wine. Pinot Noir is another example.

There are also some white wines made with a special technique to ferment the skin and seeds of the grapes. The result is known as an “orange wine” and they taste like red wines with added tannin.

The technique is rare to find and the wines it produces are like nothing else you’ve had.


Made With Different Methods

Red wine lovers speak of the soft, rich, and velvety flavours the wines have. White wines, on the other hand, are enjoyed for their floral aromas, fruity notes, and zesty acidity.

It takes different winemaking methods to achieve these different results. The main difference between making red wine and making white wine is the oxidation process.

This process causes wines to lose their fruit and floral notes and gain a rich, nutty flavour or a smoother texture in return. Winemakers increase oxygen levels by ageing wine in oak barrels.

Oak barrels are breathable and let the wine ingress oxygen. Winemakers can reduce oxygen exposure by using stainless steel tanks. These tanks ensure the wine inside stays fruity and flowery.


Different Chemical Compounds

The only question left now is which wine is better for you between red wine vs white wine.

Given that the health benefits of wine come down to the skins and seeds of the grapes used to make it, red wine is inherently “better” for you than white wine. With that said, not all red wines are created equal.

Not all of them could be considered good for you. Some are better than others at least. Pay attention to the grapes and processes used to make the wine to discern how “healthy” wine is.

Red wine is typically made with red grapes. Red grapes, however, do not have the same anthocyanins found in their white counterparts.

Anthocyanins are compounds that are responsible for the vibrant colour of red wines. Not all red wines have anthocyanins, though.

White wine is typically made from white grapes and has higher levels of these health-promoting compounds than red wine does. White wine’s anthocyanins, however, aren’t the same ones found in red wine’s grapes.

With that said, there are some white wines that have high levels of these anthocyanins. These includerosé wines and some red wines that are made from rocket (raspberries).

Some white wines have high levels of antioxidants, too. The more complex and less commonly understood antioxidants in wine include polyphenolic compounds and flavonoids produced by the skins of the grapes during fermentation.

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