First, the color shows the grape variety. Let's take two
popular varieties as examples - cabernet sauvignon and pinot
noir. Cabernet's grapes are smaller, with a thicker and darker
skin than those of pinot noir. As a result, the color of wines
made from cabernet sauvignon is usually described as violet to
dark while the color of wines made from pinot noir is
associated with ruby.
Second, the color is influenced by the climatic conditions. A
hot summer and dry fall result in ripe grapes, with a dark,
intense color. A cold summer and rainy fall will produce
undeveloped grapes with a lighter color.
Third, wine-making practices also have an influence on the
color of wine. For red wine, the grapes are fermented with the
skin. Since the coloring agents are in the grape skin, and not
in the juice, the longer the process of maceration, i.e. the
longer the skin stays with the juice, the darker the wine color
Fourth, the process of wine aging also has an influence on the
color of wine. The young red wines are rich in coloring agents
and that makes their color denser and fuller. In the course of
time chemical reactions take place in the bottle and sediment
is formed at the bottom. The wine's color gets lighter and is
often described as brick or amber.
Let's go through an example: you pour yourself a glass of red
wine and after carefully observing it, you notice a full
granite color, good density, and not so good transparency. What
conclusions can you draw?
Well, you can safely say that the wine is:
- from cabernet sauvignon grapes;
- from a Southern region;
- relatively young;
- from a good yield;
- that the wine-maker has gone for a good long maceration.
If you know the wine, compare what you know with what you see:
maybe the wine has a very full color and the yield has been bad
- this speaks of a good wine-making technique; or maybe the wine
is too pale for its age - this speaks for undeveloped grape or
poor wine-making technique.