Understanding wine can really enhance the overall experience. Beyond shining at a dinner party, being able to spot the differences between wines can be fun. Tasting wines, and being able to compare and contrast, enables you to develop a far greater understanding of the naunces. Central to being able to compare wine, is an ability to describe wine. That's why today we're looking at how to describe colour.
When you're tasting a wine, tilt your glass against a light background and take a closer look at the true colour of the wine, this can reveal a lot about its character before you even try it. The colour of the wine gives you clues about the grape used and how long it has been aged. The number of colours you can see in a wine increases with age. Being able to describe the colour of a wine allows you to build up a memory bank, leading to more informed future judgements on what you have enjoyed, and what your customers would enjoy.
We've summarised some of the key elements below;
Red Wine Colours
About Red Wine Colours
Red wines get paler as they age. They also change colours from a purple hue when very young, through to a bright ruby-red, before taking on a more orangey-garnet colour and finally brown when they are very old. When evaluating the body of red wines, consider the opacity of the wine. Full-bodied wines will be very difficult to see through. Young Pinot Noir wines are often considered Ruby red as are Gamay wines, Syrah and Malbec can be considered Purple, while Sangoviese and older Pinot Noir wines could be called Garnet. That said, there are no strict rules at play.
White Wine Colours
About White Wine Colours
White wines range from watery-white, some have a greenish tinge, through to the yellow-golden colours that deepen as they age. Contact with wood in the winemaking process will also affect the colour of a white wine, it will take on more golden tints with more oak influence. Wines typically described as straw in colour include Vinho Verde, Albariño and Muscadet. Sauvignon Blanc and unoaked Chardonnay wines are often described as Yellow. Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Viognier can be characterised as Gold.
Rosé Wine Colours
About Rosé Wine Colours
Perhaps in no other style of wine is the breadth of colours more pronounced than in Rosé, spanning from a pale orange through to a vibrant pinky purple. As Rosé wines age, vibrant colours become duller, moving towards a deep copper colour. Provence Rosé wines can be both a pale copper and a pale salmon. White Zinfandel is typically Salmon. Spanish Rosé wines made with Grenaché and Monastrell are usually Pink in colour. Pinot Noir Rosé is often described as Copper.
Aged and Fortified Wine Colours
About Aged and Fortified Wine Colours
The colours of aged and fortified wines are characterised by duller shades and brown hues. Amber colours are typically associated with sherry, white ports and Tokaji wines. Aged white wines, some sherries and white tawny ports are often termed Brown. Tawny is of course associated with Port, but also aged reds and Madeira. As Fortified wines age, they can move towards a dull, deep amber colour.
Resource: Wine Training Guide
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