"What Colour Are White Wine Grapes?" And Other Basic Wine Questions

Red wine comes from red grapes, white wine comes from white grapes, and rosé comes from... pink grapes? As a wine drinker who has self-educated through, well, drinking - there are sometimes more technical details about wine that pass you by. Find the answers to six wine questions that you've always wondered about but never wanted to ask!

Wine grapes on a vine

What's the difference between red, white and rosé wine?

Did you know that the juice of all wine grapes is either green or clear? The colour of the wine actually comes from the grape's skin.

When making red wines, skins are included with the grape juice during fermentation to add colour and character to the wine. This process is called "skin contact", and the longer the contact, the more depth in colour and impact on the wine.

White wines undergo no skin contact, whereas most rosé wines undergo a short period (less than 24 hours) to achieve that gorgeous pink or coral hue.

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What's a light, medium or full-bodied wine?

"Body" in wine is primarily due to something called tannins, which adds texture, structure and complexity. Tannins can add bitterness and astringency (or bite) to wine when you drink. A highly tannic wine will seem to grip on or dry out on your tongue, depending on how elegantly they are incorporated into the wine. They also help wines to age; they act to protect and preserve a younger wine but decrease over time, leading wine drinkers to describe older wines as "soft".

Tannins are added to wine through grape skins, stems, and seeds, as well as the use of wood barrels during ageing before a wine is bottled. The level of tannin in the wine changes how light to full-bodied it is and can apply to both red and white wines. When it comes to red wine, you can often determine the body of the wine by looking at the colour: the darker the red, the heavier the body.

Bottles lined up in storage

Is there a right or wrong way to store my wine?

Where you keep your wine significantly impacts how it tastes, because excessive exposure to heat or a big variation in room temperature can cause your wine to become "cooked". You can tell if this has occurred because the wine smells or tastes more like dried than fresh fruits, its colour is closer to brown than red or purple, or the screw cap has popped up.

There are a few ways to avoid it happening. Store your wine away from warm areas in your kitchen (like next to your fridge, oven or stove), and out of direct sunlight. Keep your wine somewhere dark, cool and dry, where the temperature changes as little as possible.

As to whether you should drink it? It won't cause you any harm but, depending on how cooked it is, it'll range anywhere from less enjoyable than expected to completely undrinkable!

Bottles lined up on a shelf

Why do some wines cost so much more than others?

There are significant variances in the effort and detail involved in winemaking, and some methods are simply more expensive than others. For example, the grapes can be picked by hand rather than by machine, or the wine can be aged in French oak barrels rather than adding oak chips to a steel tank.

But that doesn't always mean that a $200 bottle is ten times better than a $20 bottle. There are plenty of good quality wines to be discovered at a reasonable price.

So how do you find them? Develop a relationship with a company offering a tailored wine service or your local wine shop (particularly if they’re independent as there will be experts behind the counter). They can learn what you like and make suggestions for your budget!

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What is a wine blend?

Winemakers will blend wine varieties with complementary attributes to make a better and more balanced bottle of wine. For example, a "Shiraz Cabernet" will combine rich fruit and spice from Shiraz with the structure and tannins from Cabernet for a more enjoyable wine overall.

In Australia, most winemakers will list any varieties that are included in the bottle, on either the front or the back of the label. The varieties must be listed according to their proportions; for example, a "Semillon Sauvignon Blanc" will have a higher percentage of Semillon than Sauvignon Blanc.

The concept behind blending wine is that these grapes work better together than they do on their own. This makes blends a great choice if you feel unsure about what to select from a bottle shop or wine list, as they can be a fairly reliable choice!

Bottle of wine surrounded by fruit

Does wine have any health benefits?

The short answer to this question is: it depends on how much you drink.

Research has shown that, in moderation, red wine can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, heart attacks, and lower blood pressure. It is a natural source of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and contains good cholesterol.

On the flip side, there are certainly many studies that prove that excessive drinking can cause a range of health issues in return. So while wine can benefit your health in some ways, moderation is the key and only for those without contrary conditions!

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