Identifying Colours: White wine

We’ve done it for the shades of red wine, now it’s time for white! We don’t think there’s any surprise to say that not all white wines are made the same, nor that they also have varying shades that talk to the characteristics of each varietal. From flavour profile, to origin to ageing potential, the shade of a white wine tells a whole story about what you might expect when you take your first sip. Here’s what the colour differences typically mean, take notes! 

Pale by comparison

Pale straw-coloured white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, are crisp and fresh, with a light, almost transparent, shade that reflects the youth of the wine and that the grapes were harvested early into their ripeness. These varietals are vibrant and zesty, with citrus and green fruit flavours featuring prominently. If you envision an afternoon, sitting in warm summer sun, living your best life, let’s face it, you’re feeling quite smug and zen about in that moment, it’s this type of wine that you’re holding in your hand as a light aperitif. 

(Not so)mellow yellow

White varietals with a lemon yellow colour, like our perennial favourite Chardonnay, usually indicates she’s a bit more mature and in her prime. The richer shade means that the grapes were given the time to ripen on the vine for longer, giving the wine a more pronounced and robust fruit flavour. Yellow wines often include ripened stone fruits and oak, giving it a very signature flavour that pairs well with mild and creamy cheeses to counter the richness of the wine. 

Golden age

Golden-hued white wines are elegant, complex and classic. The deeper shade of yellow, as with other yellow-shaded varietals, demonstrates maturity of the grape and ripeness of the fruit. You will also notice it has a stronger aroma and will overall be quite a rich experience to drink. However, a well made golden hued wine won’t overpower your palate, it is just typically the favourite of long time white wine lovers who have worked their way to taking in the complexity of the honey, toasted nuts, and dried fruits, fruit and oak characteristics.

A wine to remAmber

Uncommon and a little quirky, amber-hued white wines come from an ageing process, with a touch of oxidation, that is worth celebrating. Sometimes referred to as ‘orange wines’, they’re deep in shade and flavour. They often include taste and olfactory notes of dried apricots, orange peel and florals. Their distinct profile attracts adventurous wine enthusiasts seeking something unconventional, chilled and with a slightly longer shelf life than other white varietals due to their tannins. 

Don’t go green over green

Sometimes, white wines may exhibit slight greenish tinges, especially in their early stages of development. This colour is a reflection of the wine's high acidity and its relative youthfulness. Wines with green tints often deliver a refreshing, crisp taste, making them ideal companions for light dishes and seafood.

The colours of white wine are not merely aesthetic; they hold valuable information about the wine's age, flavour profile, and style, and can really help you look impressive at dinner parties. From the lively pale straw to the complex amber, each hue offers a little story about its age and flavours, and gives you a heads up on what you’re about to experience. The next time you uncork a bottle of white wine, take a moment to appreciate its colour. Whether you prefer the youthful freshness or the aged elegance, white wines give a nod to the diversity of winemaking. And if there’s a subject we love to lean into, it’s that…

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