Preferring red or white wine essentially comes down to personal taste. Having a glass of your favorite wine at home can make for an exceptionally pleasant evening. However, if you would like to boost your enjoyment of wine in general, it’s time to learn about a few of the key differences between red and white. Having this knowledge will assist you in making great wine choices that will enhance your gustatorial pleasure.
Red and white wines are produced in essentially the same way. The grapes are collected, crushed, and then fermented in buckets or vats, depending on the size of the vineyard or wine-maker’s capacity. The fermentation process transforms the naturally occurring sugars into alcohol. After fermentation, the wine is stored and aged in specific containers, like steel or oak barrels, depending on the type of wine and desired sub-flavors.
The key difference between white and red wines during production is the crushing stage. In this stage, the skins, seeds, and any loose sediment are removed, resulting in a clear liquid. In making white wine, the crushing comes before the fermentation. This is because white wine is often made from red grapes. Removing the red skin prevents the coloring from leaking into the naturally clear juice. With red wine, the removal of the skins comes after the fermentation process, when enough of the color and flavor of the skins have turned the juice red.
People with preferences for one wine over the other often cite nutritional content as a reason for their choice. For example, white wines generally have fewer calories than white, though the difference isn’t very large usually. Red wines, on the other hand, have more calories but generally less sugar. A sweet white wine may have up to 15 grams of sugar per glass, while red wine may have only .5 grams. If you prefer white wine and want to limit your sugar intake, look for a white wine like Pinot Grigio. Otherwise, stick to dry reds like Merlot or Pinot Noir.
In recent years the health community has been touting the benefits of red wine as a sort of cure-all for a variety of ills. While there is a tendency to exaggerate these benefits, they aren’t completely unfounded. Red wine is fermented with the skins of the grapes intact, which means that all the nutrients in the skins are leaked out into the wine for us to enjoy. For example, red wines have high amounts of antioxidants, substances that help protect our bodies’ cells from damage caused by free radicals. These have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, as seen in France, where the diet consists of high amounts of saturated fat, yet there is a very low percentage of the population with heart disease. It can also help increase “good” cholesterol and prevent Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. The specific antioxidant Resveratrol can also help with joint pain, reduce complications from diabetes, extend lifespan, and could even hinder the growth of cancer.
White wine, however, does not contain these antioxidants because they are fermented without the skin, which means that if you are looking for health benefits from wine, you’ll want to stick with red.
Finally, the way we drink red and white wines differs immensely. Pairing wine with food is a growing art and one must be in tune with the various flavor profiles of each wine. The idea is to enhance the flavors of both the food and the wine, making sure that the aromas are not competing or drowning one another out.
Because reds feature-heavy flavors and structures, it’s a good idea to pair them with heavier foods, like meat-based dishes, earthy flavor of mushrooms, or the umami of tomato sauces. White wines, on the other hand, are generally tangier and goes well with milder foods, especially seafood and fish, vegetables, and cream- or butter-based sauces. White wines also pair well with mild, soft cheeses like Brie.
While you most likely have your “standby” wine that never fails you, understanding more about the differences between red and white wines will help you enjoy wine in a different way. They can help elevate a meal or offer health benefits you are interested in. If you’re ready to try an exceptional wine list from an upscale Italian Restaurant, look no further than Nico Ristorante for exquisite wine and food pairings.