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Red vs White Wine - What’s the Difference

From ancient civilizations to contemporary wine lovers, wine has captivated palates and unleashed passions all over the world. As one of the most ancestral drinks in history, enjoyed by poets, artists or enthusiasts who know how to cherish the flavorful taste and captivating aroma, wine is a timeless drink. Its world of fascinating colour palettes, intoxicating fragrances and irresistible flavours accompanies you at every celebration, moments of relaxation or even desolation.

Red and white wine are two of its most fundamental varieties, both offering unique experiences hiding behind the diversity of the grapes, the winemaking processes, the richness of the soil or the advantageous climate. Let’s delve into the mystery behind the red vs white wine debate, unravel the distinctive characteristics of the two elixirs and find how each one finds its place on the palate and the table. Whether you are an experienced sommelier or a curious beginner, this article will help you understand and enjoy your favourite glass of wine even more.

Red vs white wine: Grape Origin

The special scent and savour of the two wine varieties lies in the type of grape itself as well as the winemaking process to which it has been subjected. Red wines are more commonly made out of red and black grapes while white wines come from lighter-coloured grapes like green and yellow. However, both red and white grapes are rich in colourless juices so the secret behind the colour of both wines is hidden somewhere else.

Red vs white wine: Fermentation Process

The quality of the grapes may be one to blame for the exquisite taste of every sip of wine but the real beauty of shades and zests is crafted in the fermentation process. In the red vs white wine production process, the skin of the grapes makes all the difference. 

Red wine is emblematic of its deep colour and bold flavours that come from the red grape skin that is fermented together with the juice. This process allows the natural pigments of the skins to dye the liquid, creating a rich palette of characteristic red and purple tones that can range from brick red or mahogany for the older ones, to garnet or burgundy in the case of the younger ones. Tannins, which are also extracted from the skins, give structure and texture to the wine, which contributes to its ageing capacity.

On the other hand, white wine is produced without the presence of skins during fermentation making it lighter in colour and structure but higher in crisp and sharpness. In the winemaking process, the juice of the grapes is separated from its solid parts (such as the skin), and only the squeezed liquid will be used to continue with the subsequent fermentation and ageing. The grapes are pressed to extract the juice and then fermented in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels, depending on the desired style. This brewing process allows white wine to have a lighter colour and flavour than red wines.

Red vs white wine: Wide spectrum of colours and aromas

How broad the colour palette of red wine can be will depend on several factors: the climate and soil in which the vines have been cultivated, the maturation reached by the grape at the time of its harvest, the grape variety and the thickness of its skin, and, finally, the ageing time to which the wine is subjected. Different red grapes have different aromas and tannins found in the skin which leads to plentiful hues of red, ranging from light and translucent to deep and dark red.

Unlike red wine, white wine is produced from light flesh grapes, without the presence of skins during fermentation. This results in variations of light yellow or greenish tones in young wines to golden yellow in older wines, with a wide range of aromatic and flavour profiles. White wines are characterised by their freshness, acidity and fruity and floral aromas, with notes ranging from citrus and green apple to peach and white flowers. They can also have mineral and herbaceous nuances, depending on the region and the grape variety.

Red vs white wine: Exceptional Properties

Regardless if we are talking about red or white, every wine variety has its tone of singularity, something that makes it unique. When it comes to red wine, In addition to nutritional elements, the red one is rich in antioxidants found in the skin and seeds of the grape in which the liquid is left to marinate. 

White wine has almost no nutritional properties, but it does contain a substance called quercetin which helps the metabolism absorb sugar. This makes it beneficial for those people who suffer from sugar assimilation problems, such as diabetics.

Red vs white wine: Flavoursome journey

Red wine offers a wide range of flavours and aromas. You can find notes of red fruits (such as cherry, raspberry and strawberry), black fruits (such as blackberry and plum), spices (such as vanilla, cinnamon and pepper), earthy notes and often touches of oak if it has been aged in wooden barrels. Red wine can have a light, medium or full body. This refers to the feeling of weight and texture in the mouth. Lighter red wines are usually fresh and easy to drink, while more complete red wines tend to be denser and more concentrated.

Tannins are compounds that come from the skins, seeds and stems of grapes, as well as from the wood of oak barrels – a feature that boasts in red wines. They give a feeling of dryness or astringency in the mouth. Tannins are also responsible for the ageing capacity of red wine. Acidity is another important characteristic present in red wine that provides freshness and balance. A good balance between acidity and tannins is essential for the quality of a red wine.

White wines are known for their refreshing acidity and their light to medium palate. The flavours vary widely depending on the grape variety and the place of origin, but they are usually fruity and vibrant. Some white wines may have hints of vanilla or spices if they have been aged in oak barrels.

Red vs. white wine: Culinary match

Maybe the greatest red and white wine difference lies in their culinary companionships. There are certain groups of dishes that combine better with red wines rather than with white. Alternatively, white wine will harmonise nicer with other types of food. Let’s see the red vs. white wine polarity when it comes to gastronomic pleasures.

Red wines are usually the main choice to accompany red meats, such as steak, beef ribs, lamb and deer. They can also be the perfect companion for grilled dishes such as pork chops or barbecue. The combination of the tannins of the wine and the fat of the meat creates a delicious pairing. Our recommendation for such dishes is the BAROVO (red), which fascinates you with its scent of blackberry, wild strawberries and dry plums along with its luscious tannins and an aftertaste that leaves you craving for more. 

Red wines might win the red vs. white wine battle when it comes to aged and full-fat cheeses by making the perfect blend of flavours and textures. T’GA ZA JUG, the iconic semi-dry red wine named after the archetypal Macedonian poem, will tickle your palate with the taste of dry raisins and blackcurrants, complementing the saltiness of the cheese with a little bit of tenderness and sweetness.

On the other hand, the acidity and the freshness of white wines enhance the flavours of fresh fish dishes and seafood. So next time you order yourself a plate of sea bass, include a glass of BELA VODA (white) in the meal to savour the gentle aroma of white flowers and melon accompanied by ambrosial notes of vanilla and butter.

In case you are a white meat fancier and like to devour a meal of chicken or turkey, complementing it with white wine will give you the finest finishing touch. Have a glass of ALEXANDRIA CUVÉE (white) with your white grilled meat dish and feel the blend of the blossomed fruity flowers of apple, orange and lemon.

Vegetarians will find it easy to choose the champion in the red vs. white wine debate. Salads, pasta with cream-based sauces, and vegetarian dishes with softer flavours can benefit from a light and fresh white wine. The delicate body of TEMJANIKA SPECIAL SELECTION will please your palate with its rose and tangerine essence.

Red and white wine differences go beyond colour; they are a reflection of the winemaker's choices, grape varieties and winemaking processes. Each type of wine offers a unique experience in terms of aromas, flavours and ideal pairings. Exploring and appreciating these differences will enrich your understanding and appreciation of the vast world of wines. Whether you prefer the depth of red wine or the freshness of white wine, each sip is an invitation to explore the infinite possibilities that the world of wine has to offer.

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