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Wine’s color is determined by the presence of coloring substances mainly present in the skins of berries. Coloring substances present in wine belong to the families of flavones and anthocyanins, respectively responsible for the coloring of white wines and red wines. As for their color, wines are therefore distinguished in white wines, red wines and rose wines.
White wines are usually produced by vinifying white berried grapes. However, as most of the coloring substances in grapes are present in the skins, it is possible to make white wines even with black berried grapes, by draining them, that is separating skins from must immediately after pressing, that is by not macerating skins together with must.
Rose wines are produced with black berried grapes, by limiting the contact of must with skins, that is by reducing as much as possible the maceration time (rosé de saignée, literally “by bleeding”) or by blending a red wine with a white wine, which is possible in the blending of sparkling wines’ cuvée and generally forbidden for still wines having a designation of origin.
Red wines are simply obtained from black berried grapes, by draining them after a proper maceration time of skins in contact with musts, variable from wine to wine and according to the results to be obtained (usually a few days).
Each of the three basic colors in wines has different nuances, which depend on many factors, among which: characteristics of the grape, duration of maceration, vinification process, age of wine, etc.
Wine’s Color Shades
Color nuances in white wines
Straw yellow: typical of young wines, which can eventually get greenish or golden nuances at the two extremes of the scale, greenish for crisp and easy to drink wines, golden for wines having more structure;
Golden yellow: typical of full bodied wines, such as raisin wines and late harvests, or wines which have been aged for a pretty long time. The more intense coloration with golden tone can also be of varietal origin, that is characteristic of grapes having skins having a more intense pigmentation;
Amber yellow: typical of wines which are definitely concentrated, passito or fortified wines or which have undergone an oxidative aging (Marsala, Sherry, Madeira).
Color nuances in rose wines
Pale pink: typical of rose wines characterized by a very short maceration in skins;
Cherry pink: typical of the majority of rose wines. Very elegant color, in sparkling wines it often shows the typical chromatism of onion skin (pelure d’oignon);
Pink claret: despite its name, it is the most intense nuance of the category of rosé wines. In ancient times pale red wines or rose wines of medium intensity were defined with this name (Clairet) which is still used in France to define still rose wines.
Color nuances in red wines
Purplish red: typical of young and drinkable red wines;
Ruby red: typical of most of red wines, even of medium structure and aging;
Garnet red: coloration assumed by concentrated red wines and of long aging, in particular when conducted in wood;
Orange red: index of a sure and mature evolution state of the wine when it is at a nuance level.In case it is particularly evident, it can also indicate a strong oxidative state or other alteration of the wine due to its
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