Red, White and Blue – patriotic colors to think about as 4th July approaches.  Not just the stars and stripes, there are seven US state flags which are composed of these three.  Of, course, you know all of them (though if you need to cheat, check below).  But what about the color of wines?

It is easy to split wines by color, isn’t it?  There’s red and there is white.  And then some in-between stuff called rosé or blush.

In fact, red, white and in-betweens all come from grapes that ripen to a dark red-purple color.  When the grapes are crushed at harvest, the juice that flows out is clear (apart from a very few varieties which rally are red grapes with red juice).  And clear juice makes white wine.

Red wine is made by crushing the grapes, but leaving the juice in contact with the grape skins for a period – a process called maceration.  The red color in the skin (a natural chemical called anthocyanin) dissolves into the clear juice providing the basis for red wine.

To make rosé wines, three techniques are available.  The first is to leave clear grape juice on the skins for just a short while, between a few hours to two days.  Another approach is to blend a little finished red wine into a white wine to create the desired color.  Or finally, poor quality rosé is sometimes made by filtering red wine through charcoal to take out some of the color.

But Blue wine – surely not.  Blue color is generally a big turnoff for food and drink – how many naturally blue foods can you think of?  But a Spanish wine producer called Gik Live is selling a light wine with a strong blue hue.  It is made from a blend of red and white wines with added artificial sweeteners.  The bizarre blue color is mainly achieved using organic indigo – the same dye as that was originally used for jeans.  It may be different, but somehow it doesn’t excite me. 

And the US state flags which consist of just red, white and blue are Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming – but you knew that, really, didn’t you.

Robin Hall

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