Dye Job

While natural to believe that red wines achieve color because all are made with red grapes, the process to urge color along is a method in itself. Called maceration, it involves the soaking of grape skins, seeds, and stems in fermenting grape juice in order to extract tonal elements and tannic quality – and could take hours, depending on a winemaker’s desired level of extraction.

To begin, one should consider the anatomy of the grape itself. It is basically illustrated here:


As noted, actual grape juice has no pigment. Rather, it is to be found in grape skins that can be thicker in certain genera than others. For example, think of delicately colored Pinot Noir, paler than a Bordeaux counterpart because of a thin, finicky skin. (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc are more thickly skinned).

Different wines produced from varietals with varied skin structure were sampled today. First was Attica’s Garnacha, made from the rather thin-skinned Spanish grape. As predicted, it was lighter in tone but held plenty of flavors like red licorice, plum, baking spice, and sour cherry. Milbrandt Merlot was its comparison. A hair darker as it is made from a thicker skinned varietal, it was earthier in flavor, with suggestion of plum and black cherry jam.


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