red wine

Unlock the secrets of red wine

To become a wine tasting master, you should look no further than the opacity and colour of the wine you’re drinking. There is huge colour variety among different red wines, which will give you hints about the style of wine. The colour of wine indicates age, acidity, density of flavour and grape variety, amongst other things. Learn to identify a wine simply by looking at it and comparing the various colours found in different red wines.

What to look out for


The colour of wine indicates its age, as well as acidity. Look towards the centre of the glass to determine the main colour of the wine. Commercial wines lose their colour much faster (usually after only two to four years) than wines designed to age, which only change colour after 10-14 years. Wines that change colour over many years also take a longer time to mature and generally taste better over time.

Intensity of colour

Is the wine staining the sides of the glass, or is it pale with very little pigment? The darker the wine, the bolder the wine and the higher the tannin level. The wine’s colour becomes more intense the longer a winemaker keeps the grape skins in contact with the wine. It’s not just the skins that up tannin levels, though, as grape seeds and stems increase them as well.

Secondary colours 

Secondary colours differ between red and white wines. In red wines, there can be traces of brown, magenta, orange or brick. These are usually found in the rim of the wine as it goes towards the edge of the glass.

Rim variation

A slight rim variation indicates a very young wine, while a wide rim variation shows that the wine is older. A higher pH is indicated by hints of blue on the rim.


Is the wine so dark you can hardly see light through it, or can you read through the wine? The wine’s opacity can tell you its age, as well as the type of grape used to make it. Mature wines tend to be quite opaque, while young wines are bolder in colour. Many Italian winemakers intentionally don’t filter the wine, which makes it look more opaque. This is done to make the flavour more dynamic and the texture richer.

red wine colour

Now that you know about the various red colouring of wines, start putting your knowledge to the test.


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