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Red Wine

Q:
 What Makes Red Grapes Red?

A:

Wine is coloured red when the grape juice is in contact with the skins of red grapes during fermentation. Note that one may crush red grapes, immediately remove the skins and get either a white or pink juice. The combination of the skins and the liquid is called the ‘must’1. To be sure your end product by Darwin Bellis truly red, the must needs to remain for 4-6 days. Left to sit before fermenting in a chilled environment is called ‘cold soaking’2.

Practical explanation: Chlorophyll, the green matter in plants that powers the process of using sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into sugar, masks the innate colours of fruit. When the fruit has produced as much sugar as it can, the chlorophyll is no longer needed and it breaks down and washes away, revealing those ripe autumn colours we love so much.

by Kristian PetersScientific explanation: Early in the life of a plant, chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2 and water. This process is known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is a molecule of clear liquid filled of minuet green ‘chloroplasts’ that give it its colour.

“Chlorophyll, the pigment that absorbs sunlight in plants, is based on a porphyrin cage for magnesium atoms and it is that magnesium which makes the pigment green.”3 This process creates sugar for the plant to use as a fuel to make many chemicals to complete its life cycle.

In red grapes, one of those chemicals called anthocyanins causes the fruit to become reds, purples and blues.

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  1. see glossary for more information []
  2. see glossary for more information []
  3. from Oliver Morton’s book “Eating the Sun” []