We all have our preference. Ask anyone at a dinner party whether they love white wine or red wine best, and you can bet they’ll fire off an assured answer. But ask them to explain the hows and whys in the flavor/color difference and the topic will be changed quite rapidly. Fortunately, it doesn’t take years of study to learn how each is made, their individual health benefits, and the types of grapes used to make them. So keep sharp for your next classy gathering and educate yourself on the differences between red wines and white wines.
How They’re Made
Red and white wine are predictably made using slightly different methods. These methods not only affect their resulting colors, but also their taste and consistency.
Red wines use red grapes and include the skins as well for a deep red color. It’s fermented at warmer temps for a few months to four years. The extra time allows for the yeast, natural or added, to consume most of the sugar. If all of the sugar is consumed by the yeast, it becomes a dry wine. The inclusion of skins in the pressing process creates sediments at the bottom of red wines, necessitating a wine decanter for serving.
White wine uses either red or white grapes, but the peels are always discarded when the grapes are pressed for their juice. They’re fermented at cooler temps than red wines to preserve their fruity flavor. As such, this wine is lighter and sweeter because it’s not aged long enough for the yeast to consume all of the sugar. Fermenting white wines in barrel casks adds a vanilla flavor.
Both wines will occasionally utilize malolactic fermentation—the process of changing malic acid into lactic acid. This gives the wine a creamier flavor and is more common for reds than whites.
Health Benefits Of Each
Red wine is typically revered as the healthier of the two, but they both come with their own slew of benefits. Firstly, studies have shown red wine to reduce the risk for coronary heart disease due to polyphenols and revastrol. Revastrol, in particular, comes from a large amount of antioxidants found in grapes. While red wines contain more revastrol due to longer fermentation periods, white wines contain a notable amount as well.
The calorie count is just about even for both, but white wine sports a lower count of 70 calories per glass as opposed to red wine’s 73. Though it may be tempting to drink plenty of wine for the low-calorie count and abundant supply of antioxidants, you should always drink in moderation. Too much wine can lead to liver damage down the road.
The Types Of Each
The types of each wine are named after the grapes used to produce them. As each grape sports slight or sometimes great variations in color and aroma, their respective wines all differ from one another.
White wines that currently top the market include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. Chardonnay and Riesling are said to go well with fish, while a Moscato’s exceptionally fruity flavor lends well to sweet dessert dishes. Meanwhile, sauvignon blanc exudes an earthy undertone which is quite versatile with food pairings.
The major types of red wine are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, pinot noir, barbera, zinfandel, Sangiovese, and malbec. Pinot noir, an incredibly fickle grape to grow, pairs excellently with traditional Japanese. For red meat compliments, malbec and cabernet sauvignon are reliable. Barbera matches with almost anything just like its more popular counterpart, Merlot.