One of the biggest choices that the average wine lover will need to make is whether they prefer white wine or red. Of course, it is both possible and encouraged to enjoy both, but the fact remains that, when push comes to shove, everybody has a preference.
Beyond the simple taste test that most of us use when determining whether or not we like a particular bottle of wine, both reds and whites have particular benefits that may be interesting to those who want to make their choice based on more than simply their personal favourite.
Here we will take a look at both red and white wines using a broader scope, ignoring, for the moment, the various differences between the many vintages that are available and looking at the reasons why people may prefer one over the other and the various benefits that each has to offer.
The biggest immediate difference between white and red is the freshness of the taste. White wines tend to feel a little crisper when you drink them, often being a little less complex to the palette than a red and thus being more forthright in terms of notes and flavour. This has led to them becoming the drink of choice for people who are simply looking to unwind and refresh themselves after a busy day, in addition to being a favourite of those who lean towards citrus flavours in their wine.
When it comes to food combinations, white wine is preferred foe meals that include fish and poultry as the flavours are not so rich as to overpower the wine, instead complementing it further. White is also commonly consumed alongside pasta and various types of light cheese, in addition to some variants acting as a dessert wine that is intended to provide a direct opposite to the richness of the dessert’s flavours.
Beyond the taste there is also the issue of health benefits to consider. While red wine is often lauded for being an excellent drink to consume in moderation, it is actually more common for a glass of white to contain fewer calories than an equivalent glass of red. Granted, the difference is minor, usually being somewhere in the five calorie region, but for those who are intent on counting their calories and losing weight, it can make a little bit of difference. This is only furthered if you lean more towards sparkling white wines, as champagne has been shown to contain even fewer calories that red and still white.
Furthermore, there is some minor evidence to suggest that certain white wines are good for the heart. A study conducted a few years ago tested three different white wines to see if they contributed to ventricular recovery. While two of them made no noticeable effect, the third did appear to contribute to recovery, suggesting that some white wines are effective for those who wish to avoid heart disease. Unfortunately, such research is still in its infancy, so no definitive conclusions have been reached.
Red wine is the preferred drink for people who enjoy a little more complexity with their wine. Where white wine’s various notes and flavours present themselves fairly clearly, red tends to take a little more investigation before it reveals all of its secrets. You will also find that the taste is less refreshing, though this is by no means a knock against red wine. Instead, you will be required to explore the drink a little more to really get the most out of it, and will often be encountered by notes that would feel completely out of place in a white, but work perfectly in the context of a red.
Food pairings differ as well. While red wine can certainly be enjoyed with poultry and fish, particularly if a rich sauce of some sort is served alongside the meal, it is best enjoyed with richer fare. Red meats generally go very well with red, as do particularly strong cheeses. The key is to find food that is rich enough to not be overpowered by the complexity of the red wine, instead allowing each to complement the other superbly. One thing to note is that red is far less commonly used as a dessert wine, despite such treats often being very rich in taste.
The health benefits of red wine have been extremely well documented and there is plenty of research that suggests that drinking it in moderation can offer untold benefits for those who worry about heart disease or suffering from strokes. It has been shown to increase brain activity, in addition to preventing a heart conditions, due to the presence of resveratrol. There is an idiom that states that a glass of red wine a day is good for you, and the studies that have been conducted so far seem to support that statement.
Again, there is no reason why you shouldn’t love both red and white wines and we are sure that many people here have a selection of favourite vintages that fall into both categories. However, many will also have a general preference for one over the other, which is perfectly fine as well.
Hopefully, you now understand the various differences between red and white wine on a more general level, if you didn’t already. This should be considered as a guide for people who are new to the world of wine and want to have a little more information on their side before they start exploring various vintages.
Furthermore, we hope to have perhaps piqued the interest of one or two red or white fanatics who may have never considered giving the opposite colour a chance before. While there is no guarantee that what you experiment with will match your personal tastes, one of the many joys of Italian wine is the sheer variety that is on offer from the many producers scattered throughout the country. So whether its red wine or white, we encourage you to continue trying new things.