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White wine vs. red wine

29/09/2021 Winemaking

When it comes to choosing a wine, the options are endless. Different denominations of origin, varieties, production methods and so much more. However, the most common and easiest thing to do is to choose between a white or a red. You’ve probably been asked lots of times whether you’re a white or red person. This generalised classification has created two very distinct camps among wine lovers. While some people champion the attributes of red wine until they are blue in the face, many others are dead set on white wine. If you still don't know which you prefer, don't worry, we are here to explain the main differences and characteristics of both. Let’s dig in...

How are they made?

To begin with, the most obvious difference between a white wine and a red wine is the colour. The tannins are responsible for the definitive tonality of a wine. These are compounds of vegetable origin that are found in the grape pulp and mostly the skin, seeds and stems. While the pulp is colourless, the skin is not. A white wine does away with this part of the grape, whereas it is an essential element in red wines. The more contact the must has with the skin, the more colour the wine will get. This is further enhanced by the temperature used when fermenting. In white wines it is no more than 17-19ºC and in red wines it can range from 24-30ºC.

Apart from the obvious difference in colour, the presence of tannins in red wines provides more structure than in white wines, and less acidity. If they are unripe, the wine will have a rough texture and bitterness, but if they are ripe they will add texture, structure and longevity. On the other hand, white wines are usually characterised by more acidity and fruity flavours. Although there are also some aged white wines that provide complexity and more body.

Which is healthier?

When it comes to working out which of the two types of wine is healthier, tannins continue to play the leading role. The truth is that tannins have powerful antioxidant properties that prevent or delay the damage to cells caused by toxic substances called free radicals, which are responsible for aging and the onset of degenerative diseases. So according to studies, red wine is slightly better than white wine, with a greater amount of certain vitamins and minerals that help cardiovascular function.

However, when it comes to nutritional values, white wine has nothing to envy in red wine. White wine has a lot working in its favour too. On the one hand, they are usually lower in alcohol content than red wines, and from a nutritional point of view, white wines are lighter and have fewer calories. A glass of red wine has 74 calories, the same size glass of white wine has 70 calories.

How are they served?

When a wine has been chosen, there are rules on how it should be served. Both the temperature and the glass will enhance the organoleptic properties of the wine.

As a starting point, red wine should be between 16 and 18ºC. However, it is important to factor in its age. Young wines can be served cooler, between 12 and 15ºC, and older wines can be served up to 20ºC. White wines, on the other hand, should be served at a temperature of 7-10ºC. Again, if the wine is aged, it is preferable to serve it at a temperature of 10-12ºC.

As for the glass, red wines normally have more complex flavours, with more body and strong tannins, so they are usually served in large glass with a wide and deep body. A glass with a wide opening helps the wine to breathe. A white wine glass, on the other hand, tends to look more like the silhouette of a tulip. A smaller and shorter shape that aims to preserve the floral and fruity aromas and also, because these wines are usually served chilled, this glass provides a high stem to prevent your hands from warming the glass.

How do we pair wines?

Unfortunately, there are a number of myths about how to pair wines. The usual comment of “red for meat and white for fish” is not true at all. There are some very good pairings with red wines and fish as well as with white wines and meats. It all depends on the fat content of the dish and its intensity of flavour and, at the same time, on the level of acidity in the wine. The aim is not to overlap the organoleptic properties of either the dish or the wine, but instead for them to work together in balanced harmony.

Likewise, whenever we think of red wines, we think of main courses. But have you ever thought about pairing them with a dessert? They are great with chocolate or red forest fruits.

Which wine is most popular?

Red wine is still the most popular. However, although white wine has been the younger sibling of red wine for a long time, the truth is that more and more consumers are now interested in it. Great developments like new varieties, new production methods and aging have seen this wine gain an unstoppable prominence and turned the absurd myth that white wine is for women into just that; an absurdity.

Because of all these things, our advice is to not get attached to any of them or perhaps we would be better to say you should try all of them because, apart from the fact that every wine has its time to shine, there is a whole world to be discovered between whites and reds. And at Decántalo it’s all available to you with just one click!

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