We have all had rosé wine, which is usually a pale pinkish colored wine made from red- or black-skinned grapes, where the winemaker limits the amount of time that the grape skins are in contact with the juice. This time can range from a mere few hours to a couple of days. Red wine gets its color, tannins, and additional flavors from having the juice in contact with the skins before, during and after fermentation, depending on the style and winemaker.
While rosé wines are made from red grapes, and it is also possible to make white wines from red grapes. The key to this is severely limit the time the juice is in contact with the skins. To accomplish this, the winemaker would put the grapes into a press. Pressers come in many forms, from a tool that compresses the grapes, or something that inflates, but both apply gradually increasing pressure on the grape to push the juice out of the skins.
The key to making a white wine from red grapes is to collect the first juice extracted from the press. This is often called free-run juice or first-press fraction. This juice is the first out of the grape and hasn’t been in the press or in contact with the skins. This will represent the truest expression of the grape itself, without influence from the skins.
The longer the grape material is in the press, the more skin contact it is getting, thereby picking up some color, tannins, and flavors, though tannins are usually only extracted from skins in the presence of alcohol, and no fermentation has occurred here, yet. The last of the juice out of the press can have these skin influences, and depending on the pressure, it can have bitter compounds from the seeds, if they became broken.
Which red grapes can be made into a white wine? Almost all red grapes can be made into a white wine, except for those red grapes that are known as teinturier grapes. Teinturier grapes are ones where the flesh inside the grape is pigmented. Grapes like Chambourcin, Norton, Alicante Bouschet, and Saperavi are teinturier grapes, so one cannot make a white wine from them.
For City Vino's, weekly tasting, we’ll be sharing two white wines made from red grapes. The first wine is the LaSelva Sangiovese Bianco Toscana 2018, from Tuscany. The wine is made from 100 percent Sangiovese. The juice was immediately pressed from the skins and fermented in stainless steel. The wine exhibits aromas of rose water and citrus zest. This wine will pair beautifully with light white fish, shellfish, poultry and firm cheeses.
Our second white from red is the Bodegas Morgante Bianco di Morgante Nero d'Avola Sicilia Italy 2018, which is made from 100 percent Nero d’Avola. Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most noble red grape. Again, as in the previous wine, the juice is pressed off the skins immediately. Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post included this wine is his column a few weeks ago. To us, the wine has aromas of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, and a bit of bread. On the palate, the wine has honeydew melon; ripe yellow pear; fresh-picked herbs; and a bright, zippy acidity. This wine will also pair with light fish dishes, shellfish or grilled vegetables.
Please join us this weekend and try some white-from-red wines.