30 Second Tasting Tip: Is Darker Red Wine Better?

Darker red wine isn’t better. Red wine comes in various shades. From a light-tinted pinkish-red, to a deeply opaque, inky purple. The color can tell you about the wine’s style, but not its quality.

Hint: The darkness of your red wine has nothing to do with the wine’s quality.

How Dark Is Your Red Wine? Hold Your Wine Glass Over a Piece of White Paper

Hold your wine glass at an angle and look through it over a light piece of paper with some writing on it. This is the only way to see how dark your red wine is.

Here Is a Light Red Wine

If you can clearly see through the glass and read the writing without any problems, you have a light red wine.

is darker red wine better - light red wine
A light red wine.

Here Is a Medium Red Wine

If you can mostly read the writing, though it is a little challenging, you have a medium red wine.

is darker red wine better - medium red wine
A medium red wine.

Here Is a Deep Red Wine

If you can’t see any of the writing at all, you have a deep red wine.

is darker red wine better - deep red wine
A deep red wine.

Red Wine Darkness: Tells You About the Grapes

  • Light red wines were made from thin-skinned grapes, like Grenache and Pinot Noir.
  • Medium red wines came from grapes with average skin thickness – a Merlot, perhaps.
  • Deeply colored red wines came from grapes with thick skins or tiny berries (or both) that decrease the juice-to-color ratios (increasing the amount of color compounds, called anthocyanins, in the wine). This could be a Malbec, a Petite Sirah (a.k.a. Durif), or a Baga.

The color doesn’t tell you about the quality of the wine, the alcohol level of the wine, the body of the wine, or anything else.

Is Knowing the Shade of the Wine Important?

Pay attention to the typical shade of the wines made from your favorite grapes. You can deduce a little something about the nature of the grapes.

You can tell when something is ‘funny’ about a varietal wine you regularly enjoy.

Pinot Noir, for example, should always be on the lighter end of red (unless it’s from New Zealand where high UV levels make for thick-skinned grapes). Some producers will deepen the color of the wine by blending in wines from thicker-skinned grapes. They do this because wine consumers equate a deeper shade of red with higher quality.

Who knew?

The Most Important Reason to Know About Wine Color

You get to sound oh-so-smart at your next tasting!

Remember, the darkness of your red wine isn’t a quality indicator, but it can give you clues about the wine you’re enjoying. Use these clues as you sip and swirl your next glass of red wine.

Thirsty for More?

Check out these fun posts to get sipping like a pro:
9 Simple Strategies to Pick a Good Grocery Store Wine
6 Simple Guidelines to Pair Wine and Food Successfully Every Time
How Do You Host a Blind Wine Tasting at Home?

What Grape Is Barolo?

What Grape Is Barolo?

Dolcetto vs Barbera: Comparison Chart

Dolcetto vs Barbera: Comparison Chart

Dolcetto Wine Guide

Dolcetto Wine Guide