Last week, we kicked off the “Making Wine Sense” series where we explore how wine tasting involves all 5 senses. We started with using our eye SIGHT and how you can tell what to expect from a sip of white wine based on color alone. And now on to sight with red wine!
SIGHT (Red Wine)
Color (or Hue)
Just as with white wines, we can tell a lot just from the color of red wines. And knowing a little about what you’re going to sip on before you sip on it can enhance your wine tasting experience. (Who doesn’t want an enhanced tasting experience?!)
While white wine goes from pale to yellowy to amber tones, red wine goes from purple to ruby to brick. For technical evaluations, red wine is described using following colors:
- Reddish Violet
- Brick Red
Just by looking at the wine once in the glass, we can deduce a few things.
- Age: In red wines, the color of the wine gets lighter as it ages. They will also get a bit of an orange hue as the mature (or overmature). What do I mean “for their style”? Well, a Pinot Noir grape is not particularly dark (compared to a Zinfandel grape). But a younger Pinot Noir will be darker than an older Pinot Noir. However, a young Pinot Noir will probably not be as dark as a young Zinfandel. (That’s why the chart below is handy – it tells you what color you can expect a varietal to be.)
- Body: The color of the wine also helps us deduce the body of the wine. Lighter colored wines are generally lighter bodied (Pinot Noir, Beaujolais) and darker wines are going to be more full-bodied (Cabernet, Syrah, Malbec).
- Oak and Fruit: Color does not provide quite the indicator of oak or fruit flavors in red wines as it does in white wines.
The key thing is that once you know you like cherry colored reds a lot, then you can explore other varietals that are in that same color range. You may find some consistency with color and delighting your palate!
The clarity factor is the same with reds as it is with whites. You want bright color and clearness in your wines. A cloudy, hazy, or oily looking wine indicates there is a fault in it and it may not be good to drink.
Red wines could have some sediment in them. If you do seem some sediment in the bottle, it’s likely you’ll be sampling a full-bodied wine. (Of course, you want to avoid getting the sediment in your glass because no one wants to sip on a wine with bits of stuff in them.) But if you do, then leave that last sip in the glass so you don’t find yourself chewing on it!!
So… what color wine are you sipping on tonight?? Do you feel like its color range aligns with its body??