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The difference between red and white wine

Updated on October 9, 2008

When comparing red and white wines, the main differentiating characteristics between the two wines comes from the kind of grape used. Obviously light skinned and fleshed grapes would be used to produce white wines and champagnes and brandys. Conversely dark and red fleshed grapes are used for red wines, ports and other desert wines.

When it comes to describing the difference in taste between red and white wines the topic is virtually endless, this is due to great variety of wines that are produced and each ones individual traits. Red wines are often described as more hearty and bold flavored, but again it varies greatly when comparing one red wine to another. The color of a red wine is some what telling of how the wine is going to taste. A red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon is quite hardy and bold, with a very pronounced usually dry texture. A wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon, when poured is going to have a very dark color, while a lighter red wine such a Pinot Noir is much lighter in color and a smooth texture. A Pinot Noir is usually much lighter in taste, they tend to be sweeter and light in texture. White wines have a very smooth and light taste, often described as fruity. Some white wines may be very smooth and sweet such as a Riesling, and some other varieties of whites may even be described as syrupy. Another popular white wine, Chardonnay is crisp, with a dry to very texture, often light but complex in flavor with a very clean finish.

There is also a difference in how they are made as well. Usually white wines, when the grapes are crushed the juices does not get much of a chance to interact with the skin of the grape for very long. This makes for a more subtle taste, due to the fact that much of the flavor in wines come from the elements in the skin of the grape. Red wines, known for their more exotic and pronounced flavors are processed using a method where the juice from the grape is allowed to interact with the skin of the grape for longer so it may draw more character from the skin in the juice. Also red wines are aged in oak casks and white wines are aged or conditioned in stainless steel tanks or bottle conditioned.

When opening a bottle of wine, it best to know a bit about your wine so it can be enjoyed to its fullest. White wines pair well with certain foods, fish, poultry, pork. While red wines pair best with beef, pork, chocolate. Temperature is also an important factor, whites should be served chilled but not completely cold to the point where it cools your mouth too much, 38-44 Fahrenheit. Red wines are more aromatic and fragrant, being so it's best to enjoy red wines at room temperature 62-67. Whites need to remain chilled after opening, and may remain fresh and drinkable for over a week. Red wines are much more delicate once exposed to oxygen, the wines will start to oxidize and become harsh and bitter once it has been exposed to ambient air for a while. If you use a vacuum pump you can store a bottle of red wine for 4-5 days. Storing at room temperature is suitable, refrigerating will do nothing to prolong its drinkability.

When drinking wines, whites are usually ready to drink right after opening. Red wines need to breath, meaning they need to be opened and allowed to sit so that some of the alcohol may evaporate and allow the wine to balance out, doing this will let more of the flavor and texture come out and be more enjoyable to drink. Another method of oxygenating red wine is to pour it into a glass and swirl it and let the wine interact with the air.


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    • shin_rocka04 profile image

      shin_rocka04 5 years ago from Maryland

      This is a pretty solid hub about the differences in red and white wine. I'm not really a fan of white wine, but the advice here is great. I guess I'll stick to my red wine =).

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      funky23 7 years ago from Deutschland

      is that for real !

    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee


      Hi! I am new to HubPages. I just stumbled onto your pages. I have enjoyed reading your articles. You write well and your articles seem as if they are directed towards a male audience. I mean this as a compliment. I like what I have read so far and I am going back to read more. Thanks for sharing. I hope you will check out my pages someday and let me know what you think. I need all of the help I can get.


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      Eric Leo 8 years ago

      Your article helps me a lot. Now I know which wine to choose. Your article is short but concise, which is good.

    • profile image

      Eric Leo 8 years ago

      Your article helps me a lot. Now I know which wine to choose. Your article is short but concise, which is good.

    • profile image

      Rose Barrett 8 years ago

      I had been wondering if I should store my red wines in the cooler. It looks like there is still some question here.

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      Andrew Facey 8 years ago

      I am pretty sure that refrigerated red wines will last longer than those not stored under cooler temperatures!

      Sorry, just my two-cents worth from years of practice.

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      V.R.Kalki Krishna 8 years ago

      Thanks for the information since I am beginning to cultivate the habit of drinking wine.

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Max, thanks for answering the request! I honestly just learned a lot from this Hub and since I'm living in California now, the more I know about wine, the better. :)