PAWLING, N.Y. -- On your next grocery trip, find both a green grape and red grape and squish them between your fingers. You'll see the juice of both is surprisingly clear. How then do winemakers give chiantis and cabernets a rich red hue while others remain translucent? It turns out, the answer is in the skin.
According to the experts and Wineology in Pawling, during the traditional wine making process, grape skins are allowed to stay in with the juice for a longer time, allowing their color to leach and give red wines their characteristic color. This is process is known as the maceration time. Even with white wines, the amount of time that the skins remain in contact has an affect on the wine’s color. By removing the skins or straining off the juice shortly after crushing the grapes, winemakers create an array of white wines. Rosé wines, a summertime staple, are made by allowing the skins of red grapes to remain in contact with the juice for a short amount of time, giving the wine a pink tint.
"The age of the grapes doesn't necessarily have an effect on the color," said Lou Ingles, Manager of Wineology. However the length of time the grape is on the vine does affect flavor immensely.
"Picking a grape earlier will produce wines with higher acidity, lower alcohol and perhaps more green flavors and aromas," said Ingles. Conversely, picking later in the harvest season will produce wines with lower acidity and higher alcohol, resulting in more sweetness.
"Late harvest is a term applied to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual," explained Ingles. Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine such as port and have been naturally dehydrated while on the vine. These grapes produce less juice but more intense than those harvested sooner.
Looking for the perfect wine for a special dinner or celebration? Let the experts and Wineology in Pawling help you uncork the right bottle.