What are the similarities and differences between red and white wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What are the similarities and differences between red and white wine?

—Nanette M., Granite Bay, Calif.

Dear Nanette,

Well, for starters, they’re both wet, and both made from grapes. But that much you may already know.

More seriously, both red and white wines are comprised of tannins, acidity, glycerin and alcohol, at varying levels. The biggest difference between reds and whites is in how they’re made. The grapes used for red and white wines generally look very different—as you might imagine, red wine grapes are darker and have more pigment. When making white wine, typically the grapes are pressed and then just the juice is fermented. But when making red wine, the grape juice that gets fermented usually still contains the grapes, or pieces of the grapes—sometimes even their stems. The solids are removed after the wine is fermented. That accounts for red wine’s darker color and more robust body.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

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