Being a bit of a geek (in wine, but other things as well) and possibly with a few ADHD tendencies, I’m a sucker for patterns and lists. On my recent holiday in Portugal I started jotting down the different colours associated with wine, whether often used in descriptions, grape names or something else, and came up with A LIST.
Now, this is only from my own thoughts, so I’ve very happy to add any suggestions that you may have (leave a comment or send a Twitter message).
And did I mention I’m partially colourblind? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…
So, in alphabetical order…
- A WSET term for a deep dark gold colour, often apt for aged / oaked / sweet wines.
- Georgian Amber Wine is made in the traditional way in clay pots (a bit like amphorae) called Quevris which are buried underground.
- As a general rule, the grapes that make red wine are black, not red.
- Some always have black as part of their name – e.g. Pinot Noir – where there are different versions of the grape in different colours.
- Some black grapes don’t usually need the suffix “Noir” as they are far better known than their siblings, unless a comparison is being made – e.g. Grenache is assumed to be the black version (as opposed to Blanc or Gris), but sometimes it is annotated as Grenache Noir.
- The famous Black wine of Cahors which is a deep, dark, opaque Malbec blend.
- The definition of Black Wine according to the motto of the Domaine Le Bout du Lieu: “If you can see your fingers through the glass, it’s not a Cahors.”
- Pinot Meunier is sometimes known as Schwarzriesling – literally “Black Riesling” – in Germany!
- Blau is of course German for “blue”, so this variety commonly found in Austria is a blue Frankish grape, evoking Charlemagne and his empire.
- In Hungary the grape is known as Kékfrankos, which has the same literal meaning but sounds like a Greek ailment.
- A term used to describe Californian rosé, especially the sweetish stuff made from Zinfandel.
- What any self-respecting wino does when drinking the above wine (miaow!)
- Obviously a shade of red, it’s usually connected to older red wines
- For some reason Burgundy as a colour only ever refers to the region’s red rather than white wines.
- Quite well established as a colour outside of the wine world…I bet few garment wearers think of Pinot Noir…
- The oft litigious organisation that represents Champagne, the CIVC, don’t like Champagne being used as a colour when not directly connected to one of their member’s products.
- However, it’s probably too late, the cat is out of the bag for describing a silvery-goldy colour – and to be honest, should they really complain if it’s an Aston Martin?
- The well known term for red Bordeaux wine.
- However, the term actually originates from Clairette, a dark rosé style wine still made in Bordeaux (and was actually how most Bordeaux looked back in the day).
- Now often used to mean wine- (or blood-) coloured.
- A WSET approved term for a mid shade of red, in between Ruby (another gemstone) and Tawny.
- Mature and / or sweet white wine is often described as gold, particularly Tokaji.
- Burgundy’s heartland subregion of the Côte d’Or is literally the “Slope of Gold”.
- While “green wine” might not sound that pleasant a concept, it is of course the literal translation of Vinho Verde from northern Portugal.
- By extension, used as a term for certain flavours which either invoke youth or the taste of something green (e.g. asparagus in Sauvignon Blanc)
- Mid coloured grapes such as Pinot Gris (yay!) or the Italian equivalent Pinot Grigio (boo!)
- Vin Gris (literally “Grey Wine”) is the term used for a white(ish) wine made from black grapes.
- Often has a little more colour than a Blanc de Noirs, e.g. the Gamay-based AOC Côtes de Toul from Lorraine.
- Quite a trendy type of wine at the moment, basically making a wine from white grapes using red wine methods, particularly lots of contact between the juice and the skins – different but interesting.
- Orange Muscat is a variant of the ancient but popular Muscat family
- Also a wine growing town in New South Wales, Australia, whose symbol is an apple – go figure!
- In fairness, orchard regions are often good for making wine.
- David Bird (author of Understanding Wine Technology) makes a valid point asking why we use the term rosé in English when we say red and white quite happily instead of rouge and blanc.
- While reading a book on Port I came across a new colour category of grape: Roxo
- Many grapes – and actually many wines – look quite purple, but Portugal is the first country I have seen to actually have a recognised term for it.
- Obviously the huge category of red wine as a whole.
- Tinta / Tinto, the Portuguese and Spanish words for red (when applied to wine) is used for many grape varieties and their pseudonyms, including Tinto Aragon and Tinta Cão.
- One of the few grapes in French to have red in its name is Rouge du Pays, also known as Cornalin du Valais or Cornalin.
- However, without Red Wine would faux-reggae band UB40 have been so popular? Everything has its downsides…
- A bright shade of red, usually signifying a young wine.
- A style of Port, often the least expensive, bottle young and so retains a bright red colour.
- The grape Ruby Cabernet is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, though usually included in cheap fruity blends.
- A light shade of red, tending to brown, usually signifying an older but not necessarily fully mature wine
- A style of Port which has usually been aged in wood rather than bottle, with colour fading over time.
- White wine, of course, which covers a multitude of grapes and styles
- White grapes (well many of them are of course more green than white) particularly those whose name includes white (in English or any other language) to distinguish them from darker coloured siblings, e.g. Pinot Blanc / Pinot Bianco / Weissburgunder.
- Of course the Jura’s famous “Vin Jaune” (literally “yellow wine”) leaps to mind here.
- Ribolla Gialla (thanks Jim) is the yellow version of Ribolla, generally found in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy and over the border into Slovenia.
14 thoughts on “The Kaleidoscope of Wine – how’s your palette?”
Very good post. Green with envy ☺
Thanks Alan… blushing here 😄
My fav post so far babe xx
Reblogged this on eustacj.
How fun! I love it!
I like to do something fun once in a while :o)
I’ll be thinking about colour and wine all night now! 🙂
What a perfect way to re-conceptualize the colors we take for granted!
Definitely makes me want a glass of Cahors…
Again, another fantastically educational post: Blaufrankisch = Kékfrankos, Claret = Clairette, all news to me!
I am a veritable mine of tiny bits of insignificant wine lore ;o)