The Meaning Behind a Wine's Colour

To a novice, the colour of wine can seem like quite an elementary affair. Red, rose and white; right?

The fact of the matter is that wine colour is a lot more intricate than that and getting to know the nuances of wine colour meaning can be the difference between being knowledgeable about wine or an aficionado.

If you have been reading the articles here at the Octavian Vaults blog for a while now, you will already know that we pride ourselves on bringing readers all the latest news on fine wine, its storage, conditioning and subjects such as this one.

We have therefore gone through all of the very latest wine colour charts and put together this at a glance guide for you to refer to, so you can start to build up your knowledge of everyone’s favourite tipple. 

Take a good look through and you will quickly see that wine colour meaning is far more than the three variations you are used to and harnessing this knowledge could help you to become a wine expert in no time.

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Wine Colour Meaning

Below you will see the variants of your favourite wines so you can see just what their colours mean: 

Light Bodied Red

These are light bodied due to the fact they have higher levels of acid and less tannins. From magentas to garnet, you will have seen these colours when ordering red wines such as Pinot Noir and Zweigelt.

Medium Bodied Red

As the name suggests, these are medium in terms of tannin and acid. The fact they are in the middle, they lend themselves to wines such as Merlot and Zinfandel, which are more accessible to a wider and more diverse audience. 

Full Bodied Red 

You guessed it, full bodied wines are such because they have higher levels of tannin and the acid levels are low. Highly extracted and opaque, you will find full bodied wines are marketed as Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and similar.

Old Red Wines

When a red wine has hit its peak and then starts to age or decline, it will start to go a dull brown colour. Good quality reds will last around two decades before this happens and grapes such as Nebbiolo stain orange earlier than their counterparts.

Light Bodied White Wines 

Moving onto white wines, a light bodied number will range from clear to pale yellow or green. These wines should be enjoyed cold and when they are nice and young. Think Pinot Grigio, Muscadet or Albarino.

Medium Bodied White Wine

Most white wines will find themselves in this category as you will notice they have  a pale yellow or gold hue. Mainstream tipples such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are medium bodied white wines and are enjoyed across the globe.

Full Bodied White Wine

More an acquired taste but popular nonetheless, full bodied white wines have less acid and use oak ageing to give a vanilla or even creamy aroma. These are produced using high extraction or even as a free-run red wine like a White Pinot Noir.

Old White Wine

Due to their nature, you get very few white wines that are made to last as they are best enjoyed young and crisp. Usually, a white wine wouldn’t last past a couple of years and will start to go orange and dull after exposure to light. Old white wines will exist, but they probably won’t be as pleasant as the other variants in our list.

Rosé 

When looking at a colour guide for wine, Rosé doesn’t really need much of an explanation. These wines are made using red grapes skins, which aren’t exposed to the juice for as long. Unfortunately, most of the shades are very similar and aren’t therefore indicative of quality. You will notice salmon shades and light magenta, and both of these are fine by us!

That is our quick guide to wine colours and you can download your own wine colour chart here to stick on your wall. You can then have all sorts of fun comparing your wines and checking they are the shade they should be. 

If you found this wine guide useful, then you can find a myriad of other similar wine features and articles right here at the Octavian Blog. We cover everything from the best way to store fine wines, investment and even the regions of the world we recommend you checking out as you expand your wine knowledge and repertoire! 

So, if you want to learn about London’s best wine bars, the best snacks to serve with your fine wines or how to talk using wine lingo; you’re definitely in the right place.