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July 03, 2008 - Wine Icon

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Red And White Wine: The Difference

Like many other people, you probably enjoy an occasional glass of wine. You've probably tried various red wines and white wines. But do you know the difference between reds and whites? The color, obviously, but there are other factors that make reds and whites quite different.

Both red wine and white wine can be either dry or sweet, or anywhere in between. But in general, reds are more robust and more complex than white wines. White wines tend to be lighter, without the complexity of reds. This basic difference has more to do with how the wines are fermented than it does with the grapes. Although red wines are generally made with red and black grapes, and white wines are usually made from green grapes, this isn't always the case.

The main difference between red and white wines is the fermentation process. When making white wine, the stems, seeds, and grape skins are removed from the grape juice after pressing. With red wines, the grape stems, seeds, and skins are left in the juice. Because of this, tannins and pigments will leach out of the stems, seeds, and skins into the grape juice. It's these tannins that produce the complexity of red wines.

Tannins are compounds present in grapes and other plants. Tea also contains tannins... if you've ever drank a strong cup of tea, the bitter, astringent taste is caused by these tannins. In wine, these tannins act to prevent oxidation of the wine while it ages. This is important in red wines, since reds are generally aged and matured for a longer period of time than white wines. The tannins present in red wine also provide another layer of flavor, increasing the complexity of the wine, and making it more robust. The astringency of the tannins will diminish and mellow as the wine ages.

Both red and white wines make an excellent addition to your meal. There are no hard and fast rules for matching wine and food, but the differences in wine do provide some guidelines. Usually red wines, because of their complexity will match better with a strong flavored meal. White wines, with their lighter body and taste match better with chicken or fish. But the main factor in choosing a wine for a meal is your own taste. Whether you prefer a light, white wine, or a full-bodied red, just choose whatever wine you prefer to accompany your meal, and enjoy!

About the Author:

Learn more about wines and winemaking at Wine Country Guide.

A synopsis on Wine Icon.

Red And White Wine: The Difference

Like many other people, you probably enjoy an occasional glass of wine. You've probably tried various red wines and white wines. But do you know the d...

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