Dining and Drink

Five things you can learn from the color of your wine

Square Wine Co.'s Andrea Hillsey offers tips

The shade of the wine in your glass can hint at how it was made, which grape variety was used and where it is from. Square Wine Co. owner Andrea Hillsey offers background you can use at your next tasting.

1. Transparent, light, ruby-colored red wines are often fresher-styled varieties that were fermented in stainless steel as opposed to oak. Or perhaps the grapes were picked a little earlier or not macerated as long. It might also mean the grapes came from a cooler climate. The opposite is true for darker red wines.

2. Rosé-colored wines are typically made from red grape varieties with a shorter skin contact or maceration than regular red wines.

3. Light white wines hint at freshness. They’re often fermented in stainless steel with direct press in a cooler climate.

4. When they’re young, darker white wines point to the use of oak to ferment the grapes in a warmer climate, or maybe they’re made from a grape variety that tends to give them a deeper color (think gewürztraminer).

5. Then there’s orange wine. This is a white wine that is made like a red wine, where juice and grape skins are in contact. Hillsey assures us the name comes from its orange tint — no oranges were used in its production.

This article is part of the May 2019 cover story, "50 Things That Give Madison Color." Click here for the full story.

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