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Italian Wines: What's the Difference Between Red Wine and White Wine?

Whether you choose red or white, Italian wines are the perfect addition to any meal, and every Italian knows this.

But what’s the difference between red wine and white? While the two are similar in many ways, the differences between red and white wines go a lot further than just grape choice and color (though, those make big differences, too!). Today, we’re discussing a few interesting facts about the differences between red and white wine.

Continue reading to learn more.

Red and White Wines Are Made with Different Methods

Of course, as we all know, wines are made from fermented grape juice. The color of wine comes from the grapes’ skin, not the pulp. For white wines, the skin is removed before the fermentation process, which results in a clear juice that ultimately produces white wine.

On the other hand, for red wine, the skins and seeds remain on the grapes and are in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation process. This is known as “maceration,” which gives red wine its color and flavor. Like steeping bags of tea, the longer you steep a tea bag in hot water, the darker the color and richer the flavor of your brew. The same idea applies to making wine: longer maceration periods result in darker colored red wines with more decadent tastes.

Outside of how wine gets its color, there are other differences in how wine is made. The most significant difference between how the two are made is oxidation. The oxidation is responsible for wine losing its floral and fruity notes and gaining a richer, nuttier flavor. Oak barrels are used to increase oxidation since they allow the wine to oxidize and breathe. In contrast, stainless steel tanks are used to reduce oxidation, which helps the wine retain its flowery and fruity flavors.

Red and White Wines Pair Better with Different Foods

The unwritten rule is that white wines pair with lighter foods and dishes like seafood and vegetables, and red wines should be paired with bold-flavored meat dishes, like red meat. This makes sense because of how the different components in food and styles of wine interact with one another, like salt, acidity, fat, and sugar. The secret is to match complementary textures and flavors with your wine selection.

Generally speaking, the “light with white and red with meat” guideline aligns with this idea, but there are exceptions. For example, a fattier, more flavorful fish like salmon doesn’t always need to be paired with white wine—especially if the dish is served in a strong-tasting mushroom sauce. This dish would be better paired with an earthy red wine. Comparably, beef kebabs marinated in a sweet glaze might pair better with a full-flavored white wine.

Reserve Your Table at La Trattoria di Francesco

Find many of your favorite Italian wines at La Trattoria di Francesco. Enjoy an authentic Italian experience and dine your way through Italy’s culinary history. We proudly take inspiration from each of Italy’s beautiful and unique regions and perfect these traditional dishes. Celebrate flavor, food, and heritage at La Trattoria di Francesco in Salt Lake City, Utah, by reserving your table today.


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