What are the differences between white wine and red wine?

  1. Grape choices
  2. Winemaking method
  3. Tannins
  4. Alcohol content
  5. Flavor profile and structure


  • The article aims to help beginners understand the basic differences between red and white wines to guide them in selecting the best option for their preferences.
  • Red wines, made from red grapes like Tempranillo, involve the inclusion of skins and seeds, and aging in oak barrels.
  • Meanwhile, white wines, produced from white grapes, undergo fermentation in stainless steel tanks, resulting in fresh, fruity flavors and a lower alcohol content.

If you’re a beginner in the world of wine, then you may often wander down the aisle thinking about what could be the best wine for you. With many available variations between the reds and whites such as Bordeaux reds and Galicia whites, it is only important to look into the key characteristics that make them unique.

In this article, we'll break down the basic differences between white wine vs red wine to help you figure out which flavor suits you best for those cozy nights or special dinners. Flamingo Wine & Spirits is here to guide you through understanding your taste preferences. Visit us in our Pasay wine shop located at

Ground Level, MET Live,
EDSA Extension, corner Diosdado Macapagal Blvd
Pasay, 1226 Metro Manila

Grape Choices

The simplest way to differentiate between red and white wines is by the type of grapes used. Red wines utilize red grapes, like Spain's renowned Tempranillo, while white wines are made from white grapes, such as the popular French Chardonnay. While it's true that all grapes yield clear juices, the divergence arises in the winemaking process and the grape parts involved.

White wine production involves the removal of fruit skins and seeds, focusing solely on the pulp, resulting in a transparent liquid. In contrast, red wines prioritize the inclusion of fruit skins and seeds, as they impart the characteristic color. This process, known as maceration, entails soaking the skins in the juice to extract color. As a result, skins and seeds in red wines also provide drinkers with beneficial nutrients.

Winemaking Method

The winemaking methods for red and white wines differ primarily in the oxidation process, which involves controlling the levels of oxygen within the substance.

For red wines, renowned for their soft, rich, and velvety flavors, winemakers typically opt for aging them in oak barrels. These barrels facilitate the infusion of oxygen into the wine, allowing it to "breathe." Additionally, fermenting red wines in oak barrels supports the development of tannins, crucial for enhancing the wine's overall quality.

On the other hand, the distinctive sharpness, zest, and acidity characteristic of white wines are achieved through a different approach. Winemakers often utilize stainless steel tanks, minimizing the wine's exposure to oxygen. This method ensures that wines like Marques De Murrieta Pazo Barrantes Albariño 2019 retain their fresh, fruity, and floral flavors, preserving their vibrant essence.


Tannins are important in wine tasting because they serve as the foundation for its structure. They lend depth and complexity to the flavor profile, often manifesting as subtle notes such as leather and tobacco aromas. Tannins are naturally occurring phenolic compounds primarily found in fruit skins, leaves, and seeds, predominantly present in red wines rather than white wines.

Moreover, they significantly influence the aging process of red wines. In younger reds, they assert a more pronounced flavor profile. Aged reds exhibit a smoother texture and a more refined mouthfeel, attributed to the gradual settling and polymerization of tannins over time. A quintessential example of this transformation is exemplified in the distinguished Chambertin-Clos-de-Bèze Grand Cru Bouchard Père & Fils 2014, epitomizing the pinnacle of French winemaking finesse.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of wines is largely influenced by the sugar level of the grapes. During the winemaking process, yeast converts these sugars into alcohol. While the grape itself plays a significant role, winemakers also impact this characteristic by making stylistic choices regarding harvest time and the ripeness of the grape variety.

Typically, red wines tend to have a higher alcohol content, ranging from 12-15% alcohol by volume, whereas white wines typically fall between 10-13% alcohol by volume. This difference in alcohol content is simply a characteristic of the wine styles and does not necessarily imply one is healthier than the other.

Flavor Profile and Structure

In the white wine vs red wine debate, flavor profiles and structure are key considerations. Red wines typically boast strong berry flavors, ranging from strawberries and cherries in lighter varieties to blackcurrants, blackberries, and plums in richer ones, often accompanied by secondary notes of tobacco and leather.

White wines offer citrusy profiles, with notes of freshly cut grass, stone fruits, and subtle florals like elderflowers and passion fruits. Reds are characterized by their tannin content, leading to complex flavors, while white wines are tart and fresh due to high levels of malic, tartaric, and citric acids.

Key Takeaway

Red and white wines offer unique flavor profiles that can cater to many people. For those who love zest and citrus, white wine can be your go-to drink while for those who love a more full-bodied berry taste, red wine is the ideal beverage for your meals. For either wine version, what truly matters is that beginners appreciate the characteristics and enjoy their newfound drinks.

To learn more about the differences between red and white wines from experts, contact us or visit us at Flamingo Wine & Spirits, Pasay.