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Red Wine vs White Wine: What’s the Difference?


Every wine lover has a certain preference for the color of their favorite wine. You can find more info here about the similarities and differences regarding the two classic choices: the white one and the red one. What makes them have those colors, what their health benefits are, and other questions will be answered here.


Red & White

If you want to keep track of your caloric intake or if you want to improve your health then you are surely thinking about which wine can give you the best results. Red wine is well-known for having benefits when it comes to your health, but that doesn’t mean white wine doesn’t have anything it can brag about.

Where does red wine come from?

That may sound like a silly question with an obvious answer – red wine is made from red grapes and the white one from the white grapes. But that’s not actually quite true. While you may assume that, things are actually different as red wine isn’t created from red grapes, but actually from the blue variety.

Pretty much all grapes that people use for red wine have a light or dark blue color. The grape varieties that have red skin (like Gewürztraminer or Pinot Grigio) are actually used in the production of white wine. The difference between the vinification processes for white and red wines is quite notable in some cases.

The vinification process for white wine is actually pretty simple as it involves the grapes being pressed and the juice that comes out (called must) is then fermented in order to make wine. Surprisingly, if you follow the exact same process with the blue grape variety you won’t obtain any red wine as that juice will also be clear or white!

So if most of the dark grape varieties also produce white wine how exactly do we get the red wine? Simple enough, the thing that gives the wine its hue is in the skin of the grape! As a result, if you’re making red wine, you first have to crush the grapes to create a mashing of grape juice, skin and the pulp of the fruit.

The resulting mash is fermented and the pigments are then released from the skins of the grapes into the liquid. Pressing takes place after the fermentation process. So, in conclusion, for white wine we use must fermentation and for red wine, we use mash fermentation.

But then another question arises: can’t you also make white wine by using dark grapes that go through the must fermentation process? Why, yes, you can! The most famous example of this is the champagne which is made by using one of the three grape varieties that are approved for this process.

From these approved varieties you’ll notice that only one of them has actually white grapes, the famous Chardonnay. The other two varieties are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier that are both of the blue kind. After harvesting is over, people press the clear juice out of the two Pinots mentions and are fermented to make white wine.

This technique is known in France as “Blanc de Noirs” which translates as “White from Black”.


What about the rose?

Of course, we have to mention the other famous wine, the rose. How is this one produced and where does it come from?

Well, a rose is made of dark grapes that went through a shorter mash fermentation process. The colorant-filled skins are removed after the desired color has been achieved. For a lightly colored juice, the fermentation has to go on for a longer period of time. 

There are also pinkish wines available which are obtained by combining the red and white wines via a process that bears the name “blending”. As you can imagine, the results can be quite different and so most wine regions don’t get into it while France has almost completely banned it in most of the wine-producing regions.

The aroma

So, as we established, white wines are created without the use of skin or seeds. Their skins get separated from the juice, after which yeast is added in order to help the fermentation process. A white wine will have an aroma that can be described as light, fruity, but also crisp.

The red wine that is made from the crushed grapes and their skins is obtained after a fermentation period of about two weeks. Red wine is considered to have a richer flavor.

The compounds that are found in the skins of the grapes are called tannins and they appear naturally. These are actually the factors that make the difference between red wine and a white one. Tannins have an important role in creating the color and flavor of red wines which is why they are drier and also contribute more body to the overall aroma.


How wine keeps you healthy

Several studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can have health benefits and wine is no exception as it seems it can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by about 30 percent so you could definitely have wine in your everyday diet. Red wine especially has a lot of antioxidants that help the cholesterol level and protect the arteries from damage.

The jury is still debating this one, but there is a chance that one of the antioxidants that you find in grapes, resveratrol, may also be very important for your health. While there are still tests to be done, the theory is that this antioxidant could prevent the growth of cancer cells, including the all-too-common breast cancer cells.

This powerful antioxidant could also come with cardiovascular benefits that could protect the person drinking wine from atherosclerosis which is a condition that involves the deposit of fat tissue in the walls of your arteries. Because of the longer fermentation process of red wine (that also includes their skins), red wine has a higher concentration of resveratrol.


White wine wins in calories

All that is fine, but if you want to have a fun party drinking every now and then, you probably care less about those benefits and may be more interested in what color of wine can help you keep your figure better. Of course, tests have been made about this subject as well, comparing the two wines we are discussing.

The United States Department of Agriculture concluded that a 3 to 5-ounce glass of red wine has 74 calories. White wine, on the other hand, in the same quantity, only has 70 calories. Rose wine has also been tested and it comes closer to red wine, unsurprisingly, as it has 73 calories for the same size of the glass.

To make the differences sound even more interesting, basically, a tall glass of red wine will have 125 calories per glass, while the same glass, only this time filled with white wine will only have 115 calories. 10 calories may not sound as much, but at a party, you’ll hardly stop at one glass and those calories will keep on adding up.

Regarding the carbohydrates, the difference is much smaller as a glass of red wine has about 4 grams per glass, while the white one has 5 grams per glass. In this case, the difference is seen as being too small to make a real difference.

What about fun?

Since we mentioned drinking for fun at a party, you’ll also naturally ask: what type does come with a higher concentration of alcohol? It seems that red wine wins this one as it has an alcohol content of 3.1 grams per glass, compared to the 2.9 grams per glass of white wine. Then again, that percentage is not exactly huge.

It is worth mentioning that this data applies in general, but not in all situations as some wines are made to be a bit stronger so in such a situation a white wine may contain more alcohol than a red one or have a white wine with more calories than a red one. Add to the mix a rose and all numbers seem to go away.


In conclusion

Both types of wine come with their different benefits, but those things won’t matter as much as the truly important feature: personal taste. If you like one type more, there is no use in forcing you to drink the other one. After all, wine is made to be enjoyed, so pick your favorite and have fun!



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