The colour of the wine will come from using black
grapes to make the wine as the colour comes from the
grape skins. The skins also contain other substances
such as tannin (that's the substance in tea that makes
your mouth feel dry), which will make the wine different
not only in colour to white wines but in the way it
White wine is usually made from the juice of white
grapes, but because all of the colour in black grapes
is in the skin, it is possible to make white wine
from black grapes if you remove the skins before fermentation.
White wines are often seen as the lighter, refreshing,
alternative to red wines.
These wines are made from black grapes where the wine
has had less contact with the skins. You will often
see very pale rose wines labelled as 'blush' wines.
Rose wines are usually not as full as red wines but
offer more body than white. Rose tends to be a very
seasonal drink, selling mostly in summer.
Grape juice is naturally sweet but as yeast
feed on the grape sugars during fermentation, the
juice becomes less sweet. Yeast will die once the
alcohol reaches 15% or when all the sugars have been
used. Any sugar remaining in the wine once the yeast
is dead will determine how sweet a wine is.
The majority of wine you will taste will be dry because
the yeast will have turned all the sugar into alcohol
and CO2 gas. Most red wines and the majority of white
are dry, although some are drier than others. Examples
of dry white wines are Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand,
Fino Sherry from Spain and Brut Champagne. Dry red
wines include Chateauneuf-du-Pape from France, Valpolicella
from Italy and Pinotage from South Africa.
The wines you will taste that are medium will usually
be white or rose. To make a medium wine the winemaker
will either remove the yeast from the juice before
all the sugar has been consumed or add unfermented,
sweet grape juice to dry wine. A medium wine should
have sweetness but not be cloying or sickly. Many
popular wines from Germany such as Liebfraumilch are
in this style; as are many rose wines such as Blush
Zinfandel from California.
Sweetness is immediately noticeable on the tip of
the tongue. Often the sugar will make the wine feel
thicker and richer. The best sweet wines are made
from grapes so rich in sugar that the yeast dies before
all the sugar is consumed. Often sweet wines will
be balanced in flavour due to refreshing acidity in
the wine. Examples of sweet wines are Sauternes from
France, Port from Portugal and Asti from Italy.
This is the general feel of the wine in the mouth
when you taste.
Wines that light in body are usually refreshing and
easy to drink. An example of a light-bodied white
is Pinot Grigio from Italy and for red wine is Beaujolais
The wine will feel richer and more substantial, this
is because of the grapes used or because the wine
may have been in oak barrels, thereby giving an extra
texture to the wine. Examples of medium-bodied wines
are white Burgundy from France and red Merlot from
The wine will be powerful and will seem more concentrated
and heavy. This is usually due to the ripeness of
the grape and for some wines the use of oak. Examples
of full-bodied wines are oaked Chardonnay from California
and Shiraz from Australia.