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Is Champagne color gold or pink?

Is Champagne color gold or pink?

Champagne is a sparkling wine that originates from the Champagne region of France. It is one of the most celebrated sparkling wines in the world and is known for its elegance, complexity and fine bubbles. Champagne can range in color from pale golden hues to deeper golden-pink colors. The color is determined by several factors including the grapes used, skin contact during winemaking, and time spent aging. Understanding what gives Champagne its beautiful range of colors can help appreciate this iconic wine even more.

The Grapes of Champagne

Champagne is made primarily from three grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The different proportions of these grapes used in the final blend impact the resulting color.

  • Chardonnay – This white grape variety produces very light, green-tinged yellow wines. Chardonnay often makes up 50-70% of a Champagne blend.
  • Pinot Noir – The thin skinned Pinot Noir grape produces light red wines. Pinot Noir typically accounts for 15-35% of a Champagne blend.
  • Pinot Meunier – Similar to Pinot Noir, this red grape also makes light red wines. It is used for 10-20% of many Champagne blends.

Wines made 100% from Chardonnay will be very pale yellow-gold in color. As more of the red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes are added to the blend, the resulting Champagne takes on a more golden-pink hue. Therefore, the ratio of white to red grapes is a major factor in the final color.

Winemaking Techniques

In addition to grape blend, certain winemaking techniques can intensify the color in Champagne. One important method is skin contact, which refers to leaving the grape juice in contact with the red grape skins during fermentation. This allows the color compounds from the skins to bleed into the juice, resulting in more color.

Many Champagne houses utilize skin contact for a portion of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier juices to add depth of color to their wines. The length of skin contact time has a direct impact on the tone – the longer the skin contact, the deeper the hue. Wines with no skin contact at all will have very little color.

Oak barrel aging is another technique that adds color to Champagne. Just as skin contact transfers color from grape skins, oak barrels transfer tannins and oxidative color compounds from the wood into the wine during aging. Barrel-aged Champagnes take on richer, more golden hues. Wines aged exclusively in stainless steel tend to maintain brighter, paler colors.

Non-Vintage vs Vintage

Most Champagne produced is non-vintage (NV), meaning it is a blend of multiple vintages. The continuity of house style takes precedence over showcasing an individual year. NV Champagne spends less overall time aging – generally 1.5-3 years before release. This results in lighter golden straw colors.

Vintage Champagne comes from a single year and aims to showcase the unique qualities of that harvest. It spends 3 or more years aging, developing more complexity and color richness. Vintage Champagne takes on deeper golden hues ranging to copper-pink tones. Prestige cuvées meant for long cellaring can develop into rich gold-amber colors.

Sweetness Level

Sweetness can also impact the color of Champagne. Here is a quick guide to Champagne sweetness levels:

Sweetness Level Residual Sugar (g/L)
Brut Nature/Extra Brut 0-3
Brut 0-12
Extra Dry 12-17
Sec 17-32
Demi-sec 32-50

In general, sweeter styles of Champagne made with higher residual sugar tend to have more orange and golden hues. The sweetness provides a hint of fruit flavor that complements the richer color profile. By contrast, the drier brut and extra brut styles retain brighter green-yellow tones.


So is Champagne color gold or pink? The answer is both! Champagne can display a beautiful spectrum of pale golden straw colors to richer golden-pink hues. The exact shade depends on the grape blend, winemaking techniques, aging time, and sweetness level. But regardless of the color, high quality Champagne always displays brilliant clarity and fine bubbles that delight the senses. The next time you pour yourself a glass, take a moment to admire the charming color – it has a story to tell about how that Champagne was made.