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When thinking about wine colors, we often just think of red or white — but in reality, red and white wines come in variations of intensity and darkness. Knowing the reason behind the colors of the wine you’re sipping is a small joy of wine lovers everywhere. Impress your friends and dates with the following cheat sheet about the spectrum of wine colors:

How Wines Get Their Color

White Wine:

Pale White

  • Young Wine
  • Little to No Oak

Rich Gold

  • Made From Deeply Colored Grapes
  • May Have Been Aged
  • May Be Oxidized
  • May Have Been Oaked

Rich Brown

  • Wine May Be Old/Aged
  • May Be A Flavored Wine

Red Wine:

Deep Ruby (Dark Purple)

  • Thick Skinned Grapes
  • Young Wine
  • Riper Fruit
  • Warmer Climate
  • Extractive Wine Making

Light Ruby (Bright Purple)

  • Thin-Skinned Grapes
  • Less Ripe Fruit
  • Cooler Climate

Medium to Light Brown

  • Oxidation
  • May Be A Flavored Wine
  • Wine May Be Old/Aged

So why is your wine a particular color?

Wine color comes from the concentration of pigment in the wine, as well as how the color was extracted by the winemakers. Some grape varieties are darker in color and have thicker skin leading to a darker colored wine. Ripeness of the fruit also affects the darkness of the wine, since riper fruit get darker than less ripe fruit.

Being in a warm climate with more sunlight allows for more ripeness than a cooler climate, so wines from warm areas tend to be darker. When the fruit is crushed, choices made by the winemaker affect the end color of the wine.

A wine could be darker because the skin was left to soak with the juice before or during fermentation. A wine could also be darker because of skins being mixed in during the fermentation process. Both of these processes extract more pigment over time.

As both red and white wine age, they head towards an amber color, making very old wines similar in color, no matter what color they started. These choices also lead to flavor differences in the wines and are part of why every wine lover should know what color means when it comes to their favorite beverage.

Find your favorite shades or try new types of red and white wine by visiting our online wine store today!