One of the main elements of visual analysis is the definition - and description - of the colour: it is certainly one of the fundamental characteristics of the wine, so much so that the most common classification of this product is based on it (white, red and rosé).
But where does the color of a wine come from? This question allows us to start our journey to discover the fascinating process of creating wine. In addressing the theme of winemaking we won’t limit ourselves to illustrating the various technical steps that allow the transformation of grapes into wine. Rather, we will try to highlight the importance that the choices of the producer have, at every single stage, with regard to the characteristics and the personality of the final product.
That brings us to our first topic, namely the difference that underlies the main characteristic of a wine: the colour.
The answer seems obvious: from white grapes we get white wine , and from red grapes, red wine.
What about rose wines? The idea that they are created by mixing the other two is resolutely denied. In any case, this is permitted only in extremely rare cases, and even then only at the level of the musts, so in a pre-fermentative phase. However, their particularity may not be enough to question the efficacy of our equation.
When some friends visited our company, walking through the vineyards we showed them the bunches of grapes soon to be harvested to produce the new vintages of the wines we had just tasted. Almost by chance we asked them a question that roused great wonder: have you noticed that, if you crush a red grape, the must that comes out is clear?
The relationship between the colour of the grape and that of the wine, therefore, exists, and it is equally true that it resides (literally!) in the skin of the grapes: however, this correlation is not automatic, but derives from a straight forward production choice.
In other words, the colour of the wine is defined by the vinification technique adopted: the so-called white vinification involves the immediate separation of the skins from the must; whilst the vinification of red wines requires that we take advantageof the colouring power of the pomace (the term used to define what remains of the grape once its pulp has been extracted).
In the first case, the colour of the wine will be determined by the type and concentration of the pigments present in the grape pulp only, but in general it will be possible to obtain white musts (and, therefore, white wines), characterized by pale hues (straw yellow).
The red vinification process exploits the maceration technique, specifically the longer or shorter periods of contact between the must and the pomace, to extract the colour from the skins. In this case, the decisive determining factor is not only the concentration of the colouring substances in the grape used. It also depends on the duration of the procedure (which can vary from a few days to more than a month) and the temperature at which it is effected.
In fact, it’s sufficient to consider the simple preparation of a cup of tea to understand how much the heat can favour (and accelerate) the process of transferring colour and aroma into a liquid.
So is there an unequivocal correlation between the colour of the grape and the type of vinification?Absolutely not! The definition used to distinguish the two methods (white vinification and red vinification) could actually be misleading. Actually, either method can be applied to any type of wine depending on the type of wine you want to obtain.
Think for example of the increasingly widespread tendency to macerate for white wines too, to enrich both their colouration and their aromatic properties. Conversely, with Pinot Noir, for example, the white vinification method is used for the production of numerous types of spumante wines.
There is a really interesting phrase that sums up precisely this type of product and is absolutely perfect for our topic: blanc de noirs (literally “white from black”).
This is precisely how the sparkling wines obtained exclusively from black berried grapes (usually Pinot Noir) are defined. Produced, as they are, with white vinification.
To complete the argument, we must point out that the phrase blanc de blancs will, on the contrary, indicate the use of only white grapes.In fact, both phrases mark a particular interpretation of what we might call the most classic sparkling wine recipe (more precisely that of Champagne) which involves the use of both types of grape.