Determine a Wine's Quality by Color

Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine grape tuscanyAn important element in trying to evaluate quality wines is through their color. Of course there are a number of grape varieties that provide the wine with its color. But how dark or how light that color is can tell the wine expert more than just the type or variety of grape used for a certain wine. How that color comes out can be used to assess the fine qualities of wines, be it red, white or rose wine varieties.

Skin of the grape

Initially, the color of the wine comes form the skin of the grape. The juice that usually comes out when grapes are pressed is white or clear. The pigments that make red wines have that color are found from the skins of the red grapes.

During winemaking it is important to leave the skins of the grapes in contact with the juice during the fermentation process. It is during this process that the color from the skin is being absorbed by the juice that gives color to the resulting wine. With white wines, the skin from white or light colored grapes does not have the benefit of color as much as the red varieties. But some white wines may achieve lighter hues that may be brought about by several means.

Fermentation process

In assessing quality through the color of the grape, wine experts also try to look into other factors that may affect the wine color. Such factors may come from the actual process of making the wine. The fermentation process may affect the color of the wines being examined. It would depend on how such wines have been fermented. Fermenting wine in oak barrels against fermenting them in more sterile vessels can greatly affect wine color, especially its stability.

Weather conditions

Color of the wine may also give wine experts some hints as to the weather conditions that certain vintages went through when cultivated. If certain wines have a slightly lighter color than what is normally known for their type, such grape varieties may have gone through rainstorms before their harvest that resulted in swollen and more dilute grapes. Full ripeness of the grapes when harvested will usually bring about richer colors to the wines when made.

Cold soaking

There are other processes that are used to give wines their color that wine experts look into is how the winemakers themselves try to control the color of their wines. This can be done by cold soaking the juice and skin mixture to break the skins down more and release more pigment. As fermentation begins and the temperature rises, the rising solids of the mixture can then be pushed back into the liquid or even taken out completely, depending on what the winemaker wants to achieve. This can also have an effect on the color of the resulting wine.

Wine experts look into such processes among other factors when assessing wine through the color that they display. And the process that they assess the color is checking the wine poured on a wine glass and set against a white background. This will help provide wine experts with a way to judge and assess the actual color of the wine and base their knowledge on certain factors to see if such wines can be considered of fine quality.