Burgundy wine, produced in the Burgundy region of France, is known for its wide range of colors. The actual color of a Burgundy wine depends on several factors, primarily the grape variety and winemaking techniques used.
Grape Varieties in Burgundy
There are two main grape varieties used to produce Burgundy wines:
|Pinot Noir||A red variety known for producing wines with pale, transparent ruby colors|
|Chardonnay||A white variety that makes white or golden-yellow wines|
The red grape Pinot Noir and the white grape Chardonnay make up the majority of Burgundy wines. Other allowed red grape varieties in Burgundy are Gamay, César, Tressot, and Pinot Liébault. Aligoté is another white grape that can be used.
Red Burgundy Wine Color
Red Burgundy wines made from Pinot Noir grapes range from pale ruby to garnet in color. The exact shade can vary depending on factors like:
- Vine age – Wines from older vines tend to be more intensely colored
- Grape maturity – Riper grapes produce darker colored wines
- Maceration – Extended skin contact during winemaking extracts more color
- Blending – Some regions blend in other red grapes like Gamay to add color
- Oak aging – Barrel aging adds a brownish hue over time
Younger Pinot Noir based red Burgundies often have a bright, transparent cherry red or ruby color. As the wines age, they evolve to more mature garnet, brick red, and tawny brown shades.
White Burgundy Wine Color
White Burgundy wines made from Chardonnay grapes range from pale straw yellow to deep golden yellow in color. The depth of color depends on factors such as:
- Grape maturity – Riper grapes have more color
- Skin contact – More skin contact equals deeper color
- Barrel aging – Oaking adds color over time
- Lees contact – More lees contact gives deeper color
- Blending – Aligoté produces paler wines than Chardonnay
Younger white Burgundy wines fermented in stainless steel are often nearly colorless to pale straw. As they age in oak barrels and on the lees, they develop richer golden hues. Extended lees contact produces an amber color in older wines.
Burgundy Wine Color by Village
In addition to grape variety, the specific village and terroir where the grapes are grown significantly impacts the color of Burgundy wines. Here are some color characteristics based on village:
|Gevrey-Chambertin||Deeper, more purple reds|
|Volnay||Very pale, ethereal reds|
|Pommard||Ruby reds with a garnet hue|
|Meursault||Rich golden whites|
|Chablis||Pale, green-tinged whites|
These are generalizations, but village is a factor in the range of colors seen in Burgundies.
Typical Burgundy Wine Color Characteristics
While there are always exceptions, the following are some typical color characteristics of Burgundy wines:
|Type||Young Wine Color||Mature Wine Color|
|Red Burgundy||Translucent ruby, light red||Garnet, brick red|
|White Burgundy||Pale yellow||Golden yellow|
|Rosé Burgundy||Pink||Salmon, onion skin|
How Color Changes with Age
In addition to lightening over time, Burgundy wines change hue as they age and develop tertiary flavors. General color changes include:
- Reds – Shift from ruby to garnet to tawny
- Whites – Deepen from pale yellow to gold
- Rosés – Move from pink to salmon
The pale red wines of Pinot Noir are especially prone to taking on an orange tinge as the pigments evolve. White wines darken with oxidation and can show amber edges.
Serving Temperature Affects Color
The color of a Burgundy in the glass can also be impacted by serving temperature. In general:
- Cooler temperatures deepen color
- Warmer temperatures lighten color
A light red Burgundy served too warm may appear much paler than if served properly chilled. The intensity of aromas and flavors can also be affected.
Decanting Enhances Color
Decanting or aerating wines before serving has an effect on the perceived color. Exposure to air can “open up” the wine and make the colors appear more vivid. Decanting is highly recommended for more mature red Burgundies.
Food Pairings to Complement Color
The dining table offers clever ways to complement the stunning range of Burgundy wine colors.
- Light reds – Serve with salmon, chicken, veal in creamy sauces
- Golden whites – Pair with seafood, lemon, butter sauces
- Rosés – Drink with grilled fish, salmon, salads
Matching the intensity of a dish to the wine color and weight is part of the fun with Burgundy wines.
Burgundy produces some of the most ethereally pale reds from Pinot Noir and rich golden whites from Chardonnay. The exact color depends on the grapes, terroir, winemaking methods, and age. But the range of pinks, reds, and yellows – from nearly clear to opaque – is part of what makes Burgundy wines such a singular experience for the senses.