RED v. WHITE

Bigotry is the child of ignorance and fear. Always was, always will be.

So, it’s time to talk candidly about wine bigotry.

Ready?

Pigmentation is not a factor in the flavor of your wine. Nor is it a factor in sweetness level, alcohol level or viscosity. Pigmentation does not influence aging nor does pigmentation affect complexity.

That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. A scientific fact. And anyone that tells you differently is not a wine expert or a connoisseur. Its doesn’t matter what radio station they are on, or how impressive the newspaper they write for is, or whether other people quote their ‘scores’. They are wrong. Scientifically wrong. And they are bigots.

Are there differences between ‘red’ grapes and ‘white’ grapes? Sure, but their are also differences between ‘red’ grapes and other ‘red’ grapes. But those differences are often not what makes the wine sweet or thick or ageworthy or interesting. Yes, different grapes taste differently, but not because of their color!

Do you want to make a thick wine? Let your grapes get as ripe as possible. Then let them macerate for a long time. Then stop fermentation while there is still sugar present (or just add sugar). Voila! Thick wine! Regardless of the color of the grape.

Do you want to make a high alcohol wine?  Let your grapes get as ripe as possible. Then let them macerate for a long time. Then allow fermentation to consume all the sugar from the grapes. Voila! High alcohol wine! (also thick wine). Regardless of the color of the grape.

I can tell you how to make a light wine, a tannic wine, a sweet wine, a dry wine (which, by the way, is not the opposite of a sweet wine), an acidic wine, an age-worthy wine or a wine that gets a big ‘score’. And none of the factors involved in making any of the above wines have anything to do with how much pigmentation resides in the grapes. The color is largely irrelevant, or at least, secondary to other factors.

There are many examples of different styles of wines using the same grapes, often from the same winery. As an example, consider Valpolicella. A winery there, using the same red grapes, might make 4 different wines, of various thickness, sweetness and alcohol levels. Same grapes, same area, same winery. Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, Recioto. One could (and we see this as well) do the same thing with any number of white grapes. From Bordeaux; light, crisp Semillon and viscous, sweet Sauternes. Same grape. Different outcomes.

Now, you’re not necessarily a bigot if you say that you only like Cabernet Sauvignon. Inexperienced? Yes. Silly? Sure. But bigoted? Perhaps not. You just don’t get out much.

For the record, I think that you should drink what you like. If you like sweet wines, like many California Cabs, go for it. Thick wines, like Australian Shiraz, fine. Earthy wines, like Burgundy Pinot Noir, hell yes. Just remember, none of those attributes are solely due to the pigmentation present in the grape. Where grown, when picked and how the grape is handled in the winery produce those outcomes, not the color of the grape.

So, next time you’re offered a glass of wine of a color that you think you might not like, don’t proudly exclaim that you don’t ever drink wine of that color. Its doesn’t make you look like a wine expert or an experienced drinker or a gourmand. It makes you look like an idiot. And a bigot.

Just saying.

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