how do they make red wine out of white grapes?

I originally throught that red wine came from red or black grapes but a friend told me that this wasn't the case.

Posted Answers


It appears that only red/dark grapes can make red wine.

Red Wine
Red wines are fermented with the grape skins and seeds at warmer temperatures than white wines. The skins float to the top forming a cap during fermentation and must be moistened regularly with juice to extract color and flavors. Red wines are usually fermented for a period of five to ten days and then are filtered, clarified and preserved with the addition of sulfites. It is common for red wines to be aged in oak barrels for a period of about one to two years. As with whites, the vintner may choose to blend at this stage. The wine is then finished, filtered, and clarified before bottling. In some rare but important instances, generally among small, ultra-premium wineries, no or only minimal fining and filtering is carried out in an effort to capture the maximum amount of natural flavor components.

White Wine
The juice from both red and white wine grapes is without color. In red wine production, the skins are fermented with the crushed juice to give it color and flavor. Unless a full-bodied white wine is desired, the skins and seeds are usually removed from the must after only a few hours leaving juice known as "free run." The skins are pressed to extract all the remaining juice, called "press juice." The free run and press juice are then filtered in preparation for fermentation. At some point in production, the press juice may be blended back into the free-run. Next, the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels where the wine will ferment following the addition of yeast. White wine fermentation lasts from three days to three weeks.

When fermentation has run its course, the vintner will stop the process and filter the wine to remove solids and yeast remnants. The wine is then aged for a period of one week to a year in stainless steel, oak, or redwood containers, or it can be aged in the bottle. After aging, the wine may be blended with other wines with different characteristics to create the desired style. The next step is "finishing," a process by which the wine is stabilized and filtered before bottling. Substances such as egg whites or gelatin are added to remove astringent substances or proteins, which can cloud the wine and give off flavors. Sulfites may also be added to prevent oxidation and bacterial spoilage.

More on Tannins
You’ve heard it before, someone is offered glass of red wine and replies “I can’t, the tannins give me a headache.” What our tannins anyway? Where do they come from? Are they only in red wine, or can you find them in other things as well?

As it turns out, tannins can be found in a variety of things including the leaves used in herbal tea and the grapes used in wine. Tannins are a natural protective by product produced by these plants the keep herbivores from eating them. Even before they were known ingredient in wine, tannins were used to tan animal hides into leather.

The way they work is by breaking down the digestive processes of the animals trying to eat them. They cause the predators mouth to feel astringent (think of that puckery feeling you get from red wine). This effect is what people usually relate to getting a headache from red wine.

Some people look for red wines that have less tannins, but tannins are essential to having a good red wine. Without tannins, red wine is flavorless and bland. Tannins offer the illusion although more well rounded, robust flavor in red wine. They also help make red wine the dark, rich red color that we’re used to. Without any tannins, red wine just wouldn’t be the same.

Thinking that tannins give you a headache is incorrect. It is actually having a high alcohol content in combination with tannins that gives you a headache. Having a high tannin content is a big factor, but without the alcohol the headache never materializes. You can fight a red wine headache by drinking a glass of water for each class of red wine you have. You can also fight a tannin and alcohol headache by taking plenty of vitamin B.

To put the alcohol contribution to your red wine headache into perspective, think about the other things you consume that have tannins but don’t give you a headache. Fruit juices like cranberry, blueberry, grape and strawberry all have tannins, but none of them give you a headache. Herbal teas have tannins, but no caffeine and no alcohol, and they also do not cause headache.

Alcohol can cause dehydration and low vitamin B content. The tannins in red wine can enhance the feeling of dehydration because of their astringency. Once you start to get dehydrated, a headache can come on faster. If you pair wine with fruit, cheese and crackers it will keep the headache at bay.

So, in the end, tannins are important for flavor and color but they have very little to do with getting a headache. Without tannins red wine is bland, pale and has no kick. Tannins keep a red wine interesting and make it worth drinking. Tannins also give flavor and bite too many of the fruit juices and herbal teas we love. With out them the world of wine would be boring. So the next time someone claims they have a tannin headache, you can hand them a glass of water and tell them what tannins really do.

.......This is where the production processes of red wine are different from those of white wine. When the grapes are crushed, the skin and seeds remain with red wines but the skins and seeds are removed for white wines.

For red wine the juice, skins, and seeds are poured into stainless steel tanks where the fermenting takes place.

The winemaker will add yeast to this grape juice; the fermentation begins when the yeast begins to digest the sugars which are in the grape juice. Carbon dioxide and alcohol are also produced during this process.


Red wine is definitely distinctively different than white wine. The universe of red wine is full of characters. From the delicate Pinots to the strong, bold Zinfandels, the red wine petulant swings back and forth over a wide range of colors and flavors.

There are many reasons why red wines are thought to be superior or more complex than their counterpart, white, but what makes a red wine red? There’s more than meets the eye. If the only difference between red wines and white wines were the color, wine drinkers wouldn’t care whether they drank one or the other. In reality, the differences between white and red wine are far more than skin deep.

Thousands of different types of grapes in the world quality as wine grapes. All these grapes fall into one of two categories, according to the color of their skins: white or black.

Red wines are red because they are made from so-called red grapes (the reality is that these grapes are either purple or black.) During the winemaking process the pigmentation of the grapes skin colors the grape juice- and consequently the wine from that juice. Only red grapes can make red wine.

In addition for being responsible for the color of red wines, red grapeskins contribute certain flavors and texture characteristics to red wines. Red wines not only look completely different from white wines, but they also taste very different.

One substance that red wines take from their grapeskins is tannin. Tannin is a substance that exists in the skins of red grapes. Tannin is usually classified as a bitter or dry flavor. If used incorrectly, the wine can taste harsh and astringent from the tannin. The presence of tannin is the single most important difference between red and white wines. Some reds are naturally lower in tannin than others, but no matter what, all reds do contain some level of tannin.

Tannin is also responsible for that feeling behind the jaw and that dry feeling that is often contributed to red wines. It is a slightly acquired taste, but after many tastings, wine enthusiasts come to love and look forward to the whole mouth experience that the tannins give wine drinkers.

Take the time to sample as many red wines as you can. There are endless possibilities of taste, color and complete wine experiences. And what better thing to explore than wine?

John Gibb is the owner of Wine guides For more information on wine check out http://www.Wines-Guidance.Info

Article Source:

What is Tannin in Red Wine?
Guest Author - Paula S.W. Laurita

Tannin is sometimes hard to define. Some red wine drinkers love it and others hate tannin. What exactly is tannin?
Tannins is phenolic compounds extracted from the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes. Tannin play an important part in wine production. They also contribute to the taste of wine. When many wine drinkers think of red wine they think of tannin. The longer the wine stays in contact with the skins, stems, and seeds the more tannin absorbed.

It is hard to describe the exact taste of tannin. It can be described more as a sensation than a flavor. It is the slight clenching feeling at the back of your jaw when you drink a red wine with noticable tannin. It is what creates that dry feeling in your mouth when you drink a great dry wine. Wine without any tannin is often flat and insipid. Bite a grape seed and you will understand the extreme tannic experience.

Tannin is an astringent that occurs naturally in grapes. Tannin acts as a ntural fining agent. Proteins combine with tannin to form heavy solids that sink to the bottom of the barrel or bottle. This process is called flocculation and is a natural clearing process in wine. Wine that is cloudy is often in need of tannin. Since tannin naturally occurs in black tea many novice home winemakers have made the mistake of using black tea to add tannin. Please don't do this, the flavor of the tea will remain in the wine.

Tannin serves an important function in the preservation of wine. The tannin is what allows a good red to develop a great taste over 5-10 years. As you know from biting the grape seed too much tannin is not a good thing. Many of us have had the painful experience of drinking a red wine that has caused our mouths to pucker and our jaws to clench. The flavor of the fruit is lost. On the other had without enough tannin the wine may taste more like fruit punch than a good red wine.

Tannin is also naturally present in oak. The term tannin comes from the Celtic word for oak. Oak barrels pass on their own tannin to wine as it ages, adding to the sublte flavors of the wine.

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