The Wine Color Chart

February 4, 2013 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » The Wine Color Chart
old German Riesling in a glass

An old 1979 German Riesling in a glass. source

What Different Wine Colors Mean

Ever wonder if a Chardonnay you’re about to buy is going to be rich or lean? Believe it or not, the answer is right in front of your eyes. The clues lie in a wine’s color. Many “buttery” Chardonnays are more extracted, which means they’re usually a rich gold color.

A wine’s color can also help you if you’re interested in collecting wine. You can use wine color cues to determine its potential to cellar. For instance, a syrah that tinges blue on the rim has lower acidity. Acidity is one of the primary traits of wines that age well.

Expert blind tasters take serious note of the color of wine. Amongst these experts are advanced sommeliers who must be able to accurately blind taste 6 wines to earn their credentials.

Whether or not you’re aiming for a life in the restaurant industry, you can still use wine colors to better define favorites.

Wine Color Chart

Wine Color Chart

The many shades of red and white wine.


Wine Color Poster

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Red Wine Colors

  • light-bodied red wine color shade

    Light-Bodied Red Wine

    Light-bodied red wines tend to have higher acidity and less tannin. The colors range from a bright magenta to garnet. e.g. Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Zweigelt and Gamay

  • Wine Color Shade Merlot

    Medium-Bodied Red Wine

    Medium-bodied red wines tend to have medium levels of acidity and tannin. This range of wines is diverse and includes Merlot, Sangiovese and Zinfandel. Discover more types of wine.

  • wine color shade full-bodied red wines cabernet sauvignon

    Full-Bodied Red Wine

    Full-bodied red wines tend to have high tannin and often slightly lower acidity. These wines are highly extracted and opaque. e.g. Syrah, Malbec, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Old Red wine color shade

    Old Red Wine

    When a red wine is far past its prime it will be a dull brown color. Many wines will last 20 years or more without showing much color change. Merlot and Nebbiolo stain orange earlier than other types of wine.

  • Seeing Blue?
    A bluish rim on a wine such as syrah indicates higher pH (aka lower acidity).
  • rose-wine-color-shades

    Rosé Wine

    Rosé wines are made with regular red grapes such as Mourvedre, but the grape skins aren’t exposed to the juice for as long. The result is a much more pale red wine. Depending on the variety used, a rosé can range from pale salmon (Pinot Noir) to magenta (Garnacha).

See More HintsMore tricks for blind-tasting red wine

White Wine Colors

  • pinot grigio white wine color shade

    Light-Bodied White Wine

    A light-bodied white wine can range from clear to a pale yellow-green hue. Most of this style of wine is meant to be enjoyed young and ice-cold. e.g. Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Vinho Verde, Muscadet

  • sauvignon blanc white wine color shade

    Medium-Bodied White Wine

    The majority of white wines fall into the medium-bodied category with a pale yellow-gold hue. e.g. Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc,

  • chardonnay white wine color shade

    Full-Bodied White Wine

    A color of white wine that can be produced either by a free-run red wine such as White Pinot Noir or a highly extracted white wine. Often these wines have less acidity and use oak aging to add creaminess and vanilla aromas. e.g. Chardonnay, Viognier, Marssanne,

  • old white wine color shade

    Old White Wine

    Very few white wines are made to last for more than a couple of years. Old white wines lose their sheen and become increasingly more dull over time. Because of light-sensitivity, white wines will become more orange over time.

Color of wine Poster perspective

Color of Wine Poster

Color of Wine is available as an 18×24 inch lithographic print. Printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper in Seattle, WA, USA and color corrected to sommelier standards. Poster ships internationally from Wine Folly.

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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. Find me out there in the wine world @WineFolly