White Wine...or Yellow? - Part 2

23 July 2020

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE - White Wine...or Yellow? Part 1]

Let us start by admitting that we don’t have a definitive answer to this question, but it was certainly interesting to carry out a little bit of research on this small curiosity, rather widespread among wine lovers around the world.

The most popular solutions to our conundrum are basically these two. The first refers to our general tendency, in language, to simplify reality: just as we call black a tea with a more reddish tint, the term white will define all the grapes and wines that have light hues or, to put it better, non-red.

In this sense, it’s also possible to explain the further, recent development of the winemaking language that has assigned the colour orange to that particular type of wine produced with white berried grapes through red vinification and, in this case, according to biological and biodynamic methods. Although the production process involves a particularly intense colouring of these wines, which often take on really orange hues, we can see how in this case the colour reference is used more than anything else to identify a production philosophy, thus defining a category (orange wines) which in turn simplifies the colour spectrum of the wines it groups together.

Another possible explanation of the choice to define as white grapes and wines, that are anything but clear, could provide a psychological reasoning on our language: the term white suggests, in fact, a powerful reference to cleanliness and purity, essential characteristics for a wine of any kind type, but absolutely essential for a white, in which clarity and brilliance are, by definition, key elements.

Last but not least, it should also be noted that the yellow colour related to a drink could potentially inspire unpleasant analogies, and we do not exclude that this factor was also decisive in consolidating the preference for the term white.

However, all these considerations, in particular the last one,  disintegrate when we prepare to actually describe the colour of our wine: the tasting lexicon in fact provides for the reference to a chromatic scale based on the different modulations of hue and intensity of its own yellow colour ... a perfect demonstration that this is the true colour of white wine!

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