What's the difference between red, white and pink wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What's the difference between red, white and pink wine?

—Noah, Temple, Texas

Dear Noah,

I’m going to answer your question in broad strokes, but please understand there are many nuances and variables that go into making wine, and many methods. Broadly speaking, there are red winegrapes and white winegrapes. As you might imagine, red winegrapes tend to have darker skins with more pigment in them, while the white winegrapes look more like the green table grapes you see in the grocery store (but they are definitely not the same thing).

It helps to think of the grapes as metaphorical tea bags when making wine. What kind of grapes, how long they steep, and whether or not they’re pressed will affect both the flavor and the color of the wine. In typical red winemaking, the grapes are crushed and those solids—namely the grapeskins—are fermented together with the juice, exposing the juice to the "teabag" of grape solids for a longer period of time. White wines are usually made with just the juice of the grapes, a quick dunk of the grape teabag.

Pink wines can be made a couple different ways—by blending red and white wine together, or by taking red winegrapes and treating them like a white wine. That means the red winegrapes are crushed, but just the juice is fermented, without further contact with the grapeskins.

Suddenly, I’m in the mood for a spot of tea. And wine, always wine.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

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