Colour is the main indicator of the slow oxidation of wine with age.
This is a type of phenomenon is something that occurs with all wines. And of course with no exception. The wine colour will show us a variety of information: It will show us through the colour of the rim or nail (the outer part of the wine inside your glass) its age, while the middle part in your wine glass will show you the variety.
There are, of course, many types of grapes, and an infinite number of variables to consider when it comes to the colour of wine, but if we want to try and simplify it, we could say that darker, deeper colours with purple reflections and at times reminiscent of ink are more typical of wines made from merlot grapes, rather than cabernet franc, or even malbec or tempranjillo. This is of course just to give you a few examples. When it comes to lighter colours, a fairly pale and not too bright ruby red, for example, might make us think of a Sangiovese from the Radda in Chianti area. Whereas when it comes to extremely light, ethereal and fine colours, we could be looking at a Nebbiolo or a Pinot Noir, to name but a few of the most famous.
But how and why the color in a wine change?
First of all let’s start to consider the white wines.
As white wines age, they often evolve from pale lemon or gold to amber and even brown in some cases. Vivid salmon-coloured rosés can take on onion skin tones with age. As reds age, oxidation often moves them from the purple end of the spectrum to granate or “orange brick” color if they are quite far away in their lives.
Another way to understand how to look at the red wine color in your glass it could be this- if you find a color which is quite balance and uniform in every part of the wine that you are having in your glass then most probably- you are looking to a very young wine.
When you will start to notice some kind of much more orange coloration on the border, or edge, or “the nail” whatever you prefer to call it then it is quite likely that the red wine you have in your glass it could be an older one.
While young red wines may have a dull colour when viewed against a white background, mature reds then, often show a lighter colour around the edges of the glass.
Although to the untrained eye the colour of wines may look very similar, the differences are there and can be noticed with a little training.
But why do wines change colour over time?
To answer this question, we need to know which substances give wine its colour.
This kind of substances are called anthocyanins in red wines and flavones in white wines. Anthocyanins in particular are found in the grape skins and are extracted during maceration. Young wines, which are rich in free anthocyanins, have a brighter colour but, as they age, the free anthocyanins tend to diminish and bind with the tannins, giving the wine a darker colour.
Those kinds of substances will, at certain point, during the aging process decay becoming a sediment in your barrel on your bottle of wine.
Now that you know something more about the wine color and how It will evolve with time just take a moment and give a look to your wine glass and try to understand what the wine it is really reviling to you.