The most obvious difference is the type of grapes used. Red wines are typically made from dark-colored grape varieties, while white wines are made from green or yellowish grapes.
Red wines are fermented with the grape skins, which give them their color, tannins, and certain flavor compounds. White wines, on the other hand, are usually made without prolonged skin contact, resulting in a lighter color and fewer tannins.
Red wines are generally fermented at warmer temperatures than white wines. The higher temperature during fermentation helps extract color, tannins, and flavors from the grape skins.
Tannins are compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. Red wines typically have higher tannin levels than white wines. Tannins contribute to the structure and mouthfeel of the wine, often leading to a dry sensation.
Red wines tend to have flavors such as black fruits, red fruits, and earthy or spicy notes. White wines, on the other hand, may exhibit flavors like citrus, green apple, tropical fruits, and floral notes. However, these are generalizations, and individual wines can vary widely.
In general, many red wines have a longer aging potential than white wines. The tannins in red wines act as preservatives, allowing certain red wines to age and develop complexity over time.
Red wines are typically served at slightly warmer temperatures than white wines. This is because the aromas and flavors of red wines are more pronounced at slightly higher temperatures, while white wines are often more refreshing when served cooler.
While personal preferences play a significant role, red wines often pair well with heartier dishes such as red meats and stews. White wines are commonly paired with lighter fare, including poultry, seafood, and salads.