Ask the Cellar Dweller: What’s the Difference between Red and White Wine?

difference between red and white wine

The Cellar Dweller explains the difference between red and white wine.

Dear Cellar Dweller,

What’s Up? Maybe this is a dumb question but I have always wanted to know: what is the difference between red and white wine? And why is some wine pink? 

Thanks in advance,

Avid Reader


Dear Avid,

What’s Up, you ask? Well, it’s been 25 years, and my life is still trying to get up that great big hill of hope, for a destination.

Hey, side note: remember that song, What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes? Great tune. Excuse me while I indulge in a random-90’s-nostalgia moment. And yes, I am aware that I have only been around for 7 years, and that a seven-year-old cannot remember the 90’s, nor legally drink, and thus probably shouldn’t be giving drinking advice. But luckily for you (and for me!) Cardboard-Cutout years kinda work like dog years. So trust me, I’m an expert!

Returning to your next question (which isn’t dumb, by the way), the difference between red and white wine is mostly in how the wine is made. For instance, even though there are thousands of grape varieties, most grape juice looks pretty much the same. The reds come from fermenting the juice with other parts of the grape, like the skin, pulp, or even the stems. Neat, huh? The fruit particles affect the flavor of the wine, too. The amount of time during fermentation in which the grape parts are in contact with the juice is called “maceration,” which is a pretty boss word if you ask me. Save that one for the next time you play Scrabble, or impress that kid you knew in middle school on Words with Friends.

The “pink” colored wines you mentioned are Rosés, or blush wines.

Their pigmentation happens one of two ways. Either the maceration time is incredibly short, imparting just a hint of the color, or, the blush color comes from blending white and red wine.

And White Zinfandel? That’s a fun one. Zinfandel is a grape varietal that is typically used to make a red wine. Red Zinfandel is typically very bold and flavorful. When the Zinfandel grapes are processed with a short maceration period and fermentation, White Zinfandel is the result. It’s a lighter, often sweeter wine. And it’s pink.

Thanks for asking an interesting question, Avid Reader! I hope you’re satisfied with the answer. Enjoy the earworm, too.

Your Friend,

CD the Cellar Dweller

cellar dweller figure


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