Red Wine vs. White: Similarities & Differences

Ask any wine lover—or non-alcoholic wine lover—and they’ll tell you: every wine is unique. No matter which type of wine you try, they all come with their own distinctive flavors and textures. However, as you become more of a wine connoisseur, you might notice yourself being drawn to a certain type of wine.

While each wine is unique, there are generalizations you can draw from the type of wine. For instance, at BeClink, our variety of non-alcoholic wines fall into four main categories: red, white, rosé and sparkling. Each category has its own general flavor and texture the wines fall into. And while each wine is unique, it also has the most in common with its fellow wines in its own category.

Two wine types which have ever been “at odds” with one another are the red and the white. While similarly made, they have very different tastes , which makes them compatible with different types of food and different people. Today we dive into red wine vs. white: similarities and differences. Let’s explore more.

Red and white use different grapes.

One of the biggest similarities between red and white wine is obvious… they’re both wines. They both are made with grapes and use a fermenting process—at which point non-alcoholic wines are distilled. However, one of the first differences we notice between red and white wines is they use different grapes. According to Wine Folly, “Fundamentally speaking, red wines are made with red grapes and white wines are mad with white grapes.” Seems simple enough, right?

However, interestingly enough, ampelographers (people who study grapes) believe the very first grapes, vitis vinifera, were black grapes, and a natural mutation created the first white grapes. Which means while the two wines might use different grapes, they actually share the same DNA.

Red and white use different parts of the grapes.

Not only do red and white wines use different grapes, they also use different parts of the grapes. If you read our article on How It’s Made: Non-Alcoholic Wine, then you may already know a bit about the differences in the winemaking process for reds and whites. If not, then here’s a quick recap: while white wines have their skins and seeds removed before the fermentation process, red wines do not. Instead, red wines are actually fermented with the grape skin and seeds still intact. This results in the red color you see in the wine.

Winemakers also use two different methods during the winemaking process to achieve a red or a white. To increase oxygen, winemakers use oak barrels to store red wines during the aging process; meanwhile, white wines are typically aged in large, stainless steel vats. A lack of oxygen ensures the wines retain their fruitiness or flower flavors (white), while increased oxygen causes the wines to exchange this for a more rich, nutty flavor and smoothness (red).

Red and white have different health benefits.

Because red and white wines are made differently, they also have different health benefits. While both types of wine can have positive benefits for your health, red wines tend to be more impactful. Why is this? The majority of beneficial compounds found in grapes are in the seeds and skins, which white wines do not have. Because red wines still retain the seeds and skins of grapes during the winemaking process, they tend to have greater health benefits than their white wine counterparts.

Red and white have different flavor profiles.

Obviously, all of this leads up to the most important difference between red and white wines: they have different flavor profiles. As Food and Wine states, “By virtue of these distinct methods of production, it’s only natural that reds and whites exhibit unique stylistic profiles, which can be broken down to two main aspects: fruit flavor and ‘structure.’” The fruit flavor refers to the different sets of tastes reds and whites demonstrate. Red wines represent fruits in the berry family, sometimes including secondary flavors like herbs or tobacco. White wines, on the other hand, invoke other flavors like citrus, orchard or tropical fruits. And while red wines tend to be fuller, richer and have a complex flavor profile, white wines tend to be lighter, floral and more crisp.

Then, we come to the structure of the wine. The structure of a wine essentially refers to how a wine feels in your mouth. This is affected by the “tannins” within the wine. Tannins are the astringent phenolic compounds found in plants, including grape skins. Because red wines retain their grape skins, they tend to have more tannins than white wines. Tannins, therefore, give red wine more of a “backbone,” with a stronger, richer structure, while white wines have a heightened level of acidity and a looser structure.

No matter which type of non-alcoholic wine you enjoy, they all come with their own unique flavors. However, reds and whites will always have their own special differences. If you want to become a wine connoisseur, use this as your starting point as you dive into the world of non-alcoholic wine and learn more about which type is your favorite.