Red, White, Rosé, Orange and …: Blue?

We read about wine colour all of the time. ‘Red‘ and ‘White‘ dominate most discussions. When has any of us actually seen a ‘white‘ wine? Never. ‘Red‘ and its ilk does make an appearance but more often as ruby, purple, tawny and brown. Seldom Red. Mind you ‘Black‘ is also used to describe dark coloured grapes! ‘Rosé‘ is such an innocuous  description of colour that many more correctly use the description ‘Blush‘.

an M&S Pink tasting

Then ‘Orange‘ arrived onto the scene. These wines are in most cases anything but Orange!! Its more accurate to say this is a wine making process ie leaving the skins with the pulp in the white wine making process. Uh, Oh …   there’s that word ‘White‘ again! ‘White‘ grapes should be described as green, yellow, gold, speckled and many other things. But not White!

Gold‘. That’s good as is ‘ light lime‘ or ‘tawny heart tinged with purple rims‘ etc When colour is used to describe a wine it really should mean something. This is because it does actually come from the grape and is affected by a multitude of things such as climate, terroir, wine making process. It may be the result of personal choice by the wine maker, preference by the consumer or in extreme cases bad luck and poor wine making! First and foremost in ALL of these is the grape itself. If it’s not in the grape it is not in the wine.

Recently the wine waves have been filled with the concept of a ‘Blue‘ wine. Vin Bleu to be exact. Here’s one of the photos:

Piter Ubi Blue wine from the Lebanon
‘Blue Wine’ from Chateau Wadih in the Lebanon

 The blue colour in these wines, we are told, is natural and comes from the ‘red’ grapes used in their production. Anthocyanins in the grapes’ skins to be  exact. Now, blue is very rare in nature. My favourite has always been Spring Gentians in the Burren. These are also rare.


A while back we were treated to the concept of a Blue (Cava) sparkling wine. It looked fabulous. Is the colour natural and from the grapes themselves?

GIK Wines
GIK Wines in Spain are blue leaders!

Call me a sceptic if you like but I have a very big difficulty accepting that blue here equates to natural.  I’d have thought that if it is natural then wine in ‘the good old days’, before technology came along, would have been very blue most of the time.

Blue wines look good and a lot more stable looking than their orange cousins! Are they fad, fact, fashion or fiction? Science fiction ….

How do they do it? Simple. Make a white wine. Put it aside. Make a red wine. Extract a small amount of one hue from the red wines’ anthocyanin based colouring pigment (and it seems a dash of indigo blue also at some wineries). (naturally of course!!) Add this colouring agent into your set aside white wine and hey presto your Chardonnay is now a blue Chardonnay. Not necessarily ‘wine’ for us as the EU has yet to allow its ‘wine’ to be Blue! It can, however, be described as 99% wine and 1% something else – regulations … regulations. Surely the EU knows that bucket loads of inexpensive ‘red’ wine’s have had their colour enhanced – ah, sin sceil eile

btw: I can make blue cupcakes in pretty much the same way. Anyone for a Natural Blue Tea?              arrrgh there is such a thing   ….         !

blue tea in cup on plants' background