Colour of Wines: Red wines

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Red wines derive their colour from the natural organic red/blue anthocyanin pigments, of which there are varying concentrations in the skins of darker-skinned grapes (only teinturier grape varieties have red pulp). These concentrations depend on the vine variety, the ripeness of the grape, viticultural practices, and the environmental conditions such as soil and weather, all of which may affect yield. The amount of anthocyanins leached into the resulting wine depends on many factors including berry size, homogeneity of berry ripeness, length and temperature of the maceration of skins and new wine, together with the extent to which techniques to encourage extraction such as pumping over and punching down are used. All these factors influence the intensity of colour in a young red wine.