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Understanding The Differences With Red Wines

Aug 1, 2008
While the average person may assume that all red wines are the same, the differences actually extend far beyond the label on the bottle. With over 50 main varieties of reds available, the colors can range from light red and ruby red to deep purple.

There are even some varieties that are almost black in color. Of course, the flavors are as varied as the hues and can include fruity flavors or flavors that have a hint of tobacco. For the non-expert, the best way to develop an appreciation for red wine is to learn more about it.

The color and flavor of red wines is a combination of the wine making process and the variety of grapes used. Grapes used to make reds range from deep red to purple to blue and the skins are left on during fermentation. The skins contribute to the varieties of color and, along with the grape seed, determine the amount of tannins in the finished product.

The longer the skins are left in contact with the fermenting grapes, the deeper the color and the higher the tannin content. Reds with the highest tannin content are considered full-bodied, like Cabernet, while lower tannin content gives medium-bodied Merlot or light-bodied Beaujolais. The fruity reds, which are named because of their flavor not because there is any sweetness, have the lowest tannin content of all the reds.

simply creating color. The grape skin contains flavenoids, which are well-known for their antioxidant properties, and it is passed on from skins to liquid during fermentation. As a result, the fuller the body of the wine, the amount of flavenoids will be much higher.

Four ounces of a full-bodied red each day helps lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and reduce clotting. The flavenoids are also thought to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells, as well as helping nerve cell formation, which can help prevent the onset of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Some people seem to have the mistaken belief that the only difference between the red wines and the whites is the color, or that the difference between types of reds is merely what is on the label of the bottle. Such beliefs fail to recognize the subtle variations of color, flavor and aroma that have been perfected by wine makers.

In reality, the differences in the wines begin with the grapes and continue through the wine making process. Knowing the subtleties of the variations leads to a much a greater appreciation of them.
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