How important is the color of red wine?
In The Real Review
|Color can sway our sensory perceptions of a wine.
Color can be an indicator of many things about a wine though it needs to be considered in parallel with other parameters to draw the appropriate conclusions about wine quality.
It is essential to view color in the context of the grape variety, age, and style of the wine.
For example, a red/brown tinge is to be expected with a very old red wine, though it could be a sign of oxidation on a young new release.
People often use color as a sign of quality; however, it is essential to view color in the context of the grape variety, age and style of the wine.
For example, Nebbiolo is comparatively light in color compared with other red grape varieties, and it has a characteristic orange-red hue. This color is entirely appropriate for a Nebbiolo but would be worrying in a young Shiraz.
Color is a rather poor indicator of Pinot Noir’s quality. This is because people often associate light-colored wines with low flavor. But this is an incorrect assumption with pinot noir as it can be pale and highly flavorsome at the same time.
In high-colored varieties such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, I look for good color depth and intensity. In a young wine, purple hues are generally a good sign. Though the darkest wines are not necessarily the highest in quality; there is no absolute correlation.
Fashion also plays a role in what we consider acceptable in wine color. Just look at Australian Rosé. It was once praised for its bright crimson hue, though today the fashion is pink and pale, with rose-gold shades an acceptable variation rather than a sign of development.
Color can also sway our sensory perceptions of a wine. To test this out, try distinguishing between red and white wines using a black glass to mask the color. You may discover that some red wines smell like nectarines and white wines of strawberries. This is counter-intuitive to what you might have expected should you have seen the color beforehand.
So, when you are assessing a red wine, by all means, observe the color. But use it to confirm what your palate is telling you rather than allowing it to bias your overall view of the wine before tasting it.
Want some more tasting tips? Please join us every Saturday from 1-5 PM at our in-store tasting room where we will sample some of the best wines that Napa has to offer! Check out the full tasting schedule below or at GoldenGateWineCellars.com.