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Can white wines really come from red grapes?

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The question

Is Champagne really made from pinot noir? That's a red grape and Champagne is white.

The answer

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You can make white wine, including Champagne, from red grapes.

Real-deal French Champagne relies on three varieties, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. The first two are red. Often Champagne is blended from all three, though it can be made from just one or two.

All grape juice is white. Only the skins of red berries contain the dark pigment. If the juice is separated from skins shortly after crush, it remains white. Only by leaving juice in contact with red skins during fermentation does it become dark.

There is pink Champagne, of course. That's made either by permitting the skins to remain in contact with the juice for a brief period or by adding a small quantity of red wine to the finished bubbly.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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About the Author
Life columnist

Beppi Crosariol writes about wine and spirits in the Globe Life and Style sections.He has been The Globe's wine and spirits columnist for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, he also wrote a food trends column called The Biting Edge.Beppi used to cover business law for ROB and previously edited the paper's weekly technology section. More


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