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What Different Wine Colours Mean


Have you ever wondered what the different colours of wine mean? Wine has a wide spectrum of complexities that vary in flavour, aroma, and body. Even before tasting, one of the quickest ways to learn about a type of wine is to look at its colour. Every colour tells a story, giving us clues to the wine’s characteristics, so knowing this is helpful when choosing wine.


Colour Characteristics of Wine

Before we begin, let’s learn about the different characteristics we can use to describe a wine’s colour.


The intensity of colour describes how light or dark (dense) the colour is—the more intense the colour, the bolder the flavour, and the higher tannins or amount of grape skin, seed, and stem residue it tends to have.


The opacity of colour describes whether the wine is see-through or opaque. The wine’s opacity will tell you what grapes were used to make it and even its age.


The clarity of the wine, which ideally should be clear, shows whether there is any sediment in it that may affect the wine’s flavour.


Red Wine Colours and What They Mean

Red wines are classified as purple, ruby, garnet, and tawny. Purple wines are young, juicy and intensely fruity in flavour. They have light to medium body and tannins. Ruby wines like Pinot Noir and Merlot, being less than four years old, are also considered young. They have red and blackberry flavours and light to full body and tannins.

As the red gets more intense, so does the wine’s age and flavour complexity. Wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a garnet colour, has the savoury and spicy notes of oak-aged wine. Meanwhile, a tawny wine colour means it’s been aged for a long period, probably decades, to give it complex flavours with a softened body and tannins. Care must be taken with brown wine, though, as the colour may also indicate it’s gone bad— you can tell by the smell!


The Meaning of White Wine Colours

White wines may be a bit harder to tell apart; look at their colour intensity for clues. Those with a lemon-green colour, such as Sauvignon Blanc, are young with floral, mineral and herbaceous flavours. Wines with a lemon colour, like Pinot Grigio, are also young but have an aromatic, dry and zesty flavour. Both wine colours tend to have medium to high acidity.


As the wine ages, they tend to turn more golden, with smoother and silkier flavours. Wines with a golden hue are oak-aged until they’re rich and decadent. Amber wines have an almost brown tinge because they’ve been fortified and aged for a long period in oak. A prime example of this is the Amontillado Sherry, which is a nutty and complex dessert wine.


What Rose Wine Colours Mean

Rose wines are considered young and can be dry or sweet, depending on the colour's depth or paleness. For instance, the classic pink hue of White Zinfandel indicates juicy with sweet red fruity flavours and a light to medium body. Salmon-coloured wine is more dry and fragrant yet also has a light to medium body.


Factors that Influence the Colours of Wine


The grapes used to make wines vary depending on the soil and climatic conditions. These variations, as well as the winemaking and ageing techniques used, result in a wide array of wine colours.


Several factors also contribute to the wine colour produced during the winemaking process. First is the maceration period or the optimal time frame to extract the desired colour intensity. Another factor is the fermentation method, whether whole grape bunches are used, or lees (dregs or sediments at the bottom of the barrel) are allowed to absorb the colours, making it less intense. Even the usage of stainless steel tanks or oak barrels affects the oxidation process and, thus, the wine’s colour.


Source High-Quality Wines of Any Colour

Whatever colour of wine you're looking for, it's easy to find high-quality wines from Ambrose Wine & Spirits, the premier distributor in Thailand since 1996. We exclusively carry famous wines, such as Robert Mondavi and more, to suit your taste and needs.


Our knowledgeable staff are ready to explain what different wine colours mean and help you find the perfect wine from our wide array of imported collections. Our wines are directly sourced from reputable vineyards in top wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and the USA.


Contact us today and discover our high-quality wines that wine enthusiasts and lovers will surely enjoy.

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