White or Red? Navigating the Wine List Waters – Part I

wines 1Part One: From Grape to Glass

Red or White? Even if you know if you prefer, there are just so many dang bottles out there, it can be daunting to decide which one. On the other hand, because there are so many bottles out there, we encourage you to explore. The subtle and not so subtle differences in a good bottle of wine can be a thrill to uncover.

To cut down on some confusion and help you wade in, we wanted to break down some basics to arm you with as you navigate the wine list waters! In part one of this blog series, we will give you a basic primer on grapes, wine production and differences in the creation of white and red. Keep reading and we will get you on your way to connoisseur status before you know it!

The Beginning: The Grape

It all starts here. For our purposes grapes can be broken down into two categories: white and black.  Just to be clear, White grapes aren’t really white, but light skin. In fact, yellow-green, gold or green and light-orange grapes are all considered “white grapes”.

Black grapes by the same token are also never literally black. Instead they are grapes with a red or blue tint, and range from light ruby to a deep indigo.

By definition, White wines are wines that contain little or no red pigmentation. These wines are almost always made from white grapes, but here’s where it can get tricky, they can be made from black grapes as well. Winemakers can and do make white wine from black grapes because the juice in most black grapes is white or clear. White wines are known to be sweet or dry, or somewhere in between. Popular white wines that you will see on any good wine list (like ours) include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Red wines are made from black grapes and have a red or blue tint. As we said earlier, the majority of grapes have a clear or white juice, so in order to make red wine the winemaker must use the grape skins. The red skins are what creates the color and have to remain intact with the juice during all or part of the fermentation process.

Tannins: The Real Difference

Tannins are found in the grape skins, and are transferred into the wine while the skins are in contact with the juice. Besides the difference in color, the primary difference between red and white wines comes are tannins. Found mainly in red wines, they provide a dry, puckery sensation in the mouth and in the back of the throat. They also help preserve wine, allowing most (but not all) red wines to be aged longer than white wines. Popular red wines you’ll find on our list include Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Bottom line is drink what you like and don’t be afraid try your own parings. Be adventurous! It’s only wine.

We are proud of our wine list and would love to help you navigate your way through it. Remember Wednesday nights in June we are featuring ½ price bottles (dine in only). Taste the Wine. Taste the Love.