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Red Wine vs White Wine: A Quick Comparison

Joining Hunter Valley wine tours can be informative as well as fun, and one of the things you learn is the difference between red and white wine. Red and white wine come from the same source – grapes. The fruit is fermented without any additional ingredients: no sugars, no acids, no enzymes, and no water. There are plenty of factors that affect wine production. The grape varieties along with different fermenting and aging processes produce different styles of wine.

Red wine vs. white wine ingredients

Red wine comes from red grapes. White wine can come from either white or red grapes.

Some of the popular wines that come from red grapes include:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Gamay
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Shiraz

Some of the popular wines that come from white grapes include:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris/Grigio
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc

Red wine vs. white wine fermentation process

fermentation process

Perhaps the most significant difference between red and white wines is the fermentation process. Grapes are fermented with their skins and seeds to produce red wine. To produce white wines, grapes are fermented without their skin or seeds.

Red wine gets its colour and additional nutrients from the skin and seeds of grapes. White wine is strictly grape juice.

How they make white wine in Hunter Valley

  1. Crush red or white grapes then separate the juice from the rest of the pulp
  2. Mix yeasts into the juice
  3. Leave the juice to ferment into alcohol
  4. Age the wine, white wine is usually aged in stainless steel tanks

How they make red wine in Hunter Valley

  1. Lightly crush red grapes together with the skins, seeds and even stems
  2. Mix yeasts into the whole grape mixture
  3. Leave the mixture to ferment into alcohol
  4. Keep the skins moist by pushing them down or mixing wine from the bottom of the container
  5. Separate the wine from the skins, seeds, and stems after fermentation is complete
  6. Age the wine, red wine is typically aged in oak barrels

Oak barrels vs. stainless steel vats

People love red wine for its soft, rich, velvety flavours. Those who prefer white wine are often looking for zesty acidity from pure fruit notes.

Oxidation removes those floral and fruit notes to create smooth nutty flavours. Oak barrels allow the wine to breathe, hence its popularity in making red wine.

On the other hand, stainless steel tanks reduce exposure to oxygen. This gives white wine its fruity aroma and flavour.

Red wine vs. white wine global production

global production

The 2018 report from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine ranks the top 10 wine-producing countries in the world by volume of wine produced:

  1. Italy
  2. France
  3. Spain
  4. United States
  5. Argentina
  6. Chile
  7. Australia
  8. China
  9. Germany
  10. South Africa

Here in Australia, around 60% of wine drinkers prefer white. But that could change as red wine is slowly and steadily gaining popularity.

Although white wine still has a clear edge, red wine is finding its way into Australian homes because of its accessibility. Just go to the wine section of any supermarket or grocery store and you will notice that there are more red options than whites.

If people prefer white wine, why are shops stocking more red varieties?

The answer is simple: Australia makes some of the best red wines in the world. While shop owners offer their customers an excellent range of imported wines, it makes sense to showcase the finest bottles from local wineries.

Red wine varieties from Hunter Valley wine tours

rew wine varieties

Australian vineyards produce some of the highest quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz.

The most popular red wine in Australia is Shiraz. The Hunter Valley variety has a slightly higher alcohol content that combines sweet notes of blackberries and plums with earthy elements such as coffee, chocolate, leather, and smoke.

Hunter Valley is also home to Australian Merlot. Those who prefer white wine but want to experiment with red often start with this variety as the full body fruitiness of Merlot has a universal appeal.

Cabernet Sauvignon comes from many wine regions in Australia, including Hunter Valley. Its rich and strong fruity flavour perfectly complements a steak dinner and other red meat dishes.

Pinot Noir is also grown in Hunter Valley vineyards although it is not as popular as other red wine varieties such as Merlot and Shiraz. Its balance of acid and sweetness makes Pinot Noir a great match for fatty fish such as salmon.

White wine varieties from Hunter Valley wine tours

white wine varieties

Locally produced white wine varieties that are quite popular in Australia include Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Australian Sauvignon Blanc is a top choice of wine drinkers for its fresh citrus and tropical flavours with a hint of herbal taste. This crisp and refreshing white wine pairs well with cheese, oysters, and delicate fish.

The fruity notes of Pinot Gris feature hints of apple, pears, and honeysuckle. Sip it solo or enjoy with grilled fish or roasted chicken. The complex and full-bodied Pinot Gris is a fine complement to creamy sauces, roasted chicken, and lamb.

Although Gewürztraminer is slightly spicy, the flavour is balanced with sweet lychee and pear. Serve it with your outdoor barbecue.

Chardonnay is one of the few white wine varieties that is left to ferment in oak barrels. This dry, full-bodied wine boasts a velvety flavour of apple, melon, and starfruit. Take a Hunter Valley wine tour to see some of these aging barrels.

If your preference comes down to nutrients and health benefits, red wine has more advantages than white wine. White wine has fewer calories but red wine contains more vitamins and minerals. It also has high antioxidant content. Moderate consumption of red wine has been known to promote cardiovascular health, fight inflammation, slow mental decline, and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

To make sure you sample the best red and white wines from Australia, check out a Hunter Valley wine tour! Book your tour today for an unforgettable time in the Hunter. Call 0401 012 074 or email for more details.