Colours

What makes blue wine so blue?

Illustrated image of a chemistry set, barrel and two glasses of wine at a winery.

There are many variations of wine that people have drank or at least heard of. From a yellowish colour tone to pink to red to the deep purplish hue that we are used to seeing. But why is wine not considered to be wine when it’s blue to some people? This can be answered by knowing what wine is and what can disqualify it from being wine.

Wine and champagne have rules that dictate what is a wine and what is champagne. For instance, champagne is only from the village of Champagnes, France. Any other alcoholic beverage that can be assumed to be champagne is actually sparkling wine even though champagne is sparkling wine. Wine as a very similar rule with what constitutes it to be wine. Wine are grapes fermented in various methods. There are five different variations of how to make wine from Rosé which is pink from the skin of red grapes almost being a red wine but not, sparkling wine like Cava wine is made from a blend of specified grapes like Prosecco grape, a dessert wines a.k.a. sweet wines/pudding wines are made from grapes and sugar added in, white wine like Chardonnay is from green grapes and red wine like Bordeaux is from red grapes. Since wine comes from either red or green grapes, it comes in a range of a dark red translucent colour to a very transparent light green. The classic dark red-purplish wine colour is called burgundy. The wine, Burgundy, made from the valley and slopes of Eastern France in the Burgundy region. The nicknames like Burgundies are dry red wines usually made from one hundred percent pinot noir grapes.

In a previous post, I wrote about how blue food is not commonly found in nature. The closest to blue food would be purplish-blue foods like taro, blueberries, cornflower, red cabbage, eggplant and of course grapes. Therefore, blue wine is not from blue grapes even though there are Concord grapes classified as blue grapes but produces a dark red colour. Blue wine is made by combining white and red grape wine with pigments and sweeteners. It’s wine because it is made from all-natural ingredients and has grapes. But is it a wine if it’s artificially coloured? The colour is an electric blue and most are comparable to a fruit wine with a low alcohol percentage. It’s in the realm of what people thought about wine coolers and box wines. It’s an oddity and a part of novelty/weird wines available.

The field of blue wine making is very new like 2016 new. The first blue wine that was ever introduced for the marketplace was from the Spanish startup called Gïk. The winery was runned by people under 30 with zero wine-making experience between them. They worked along side chemical engineering researchers at the University of Basque County to develop a wine with a distinct colour and taste.

Blue wine is very usual. Its recent popularity came from social media posts and photos, primarily from Instagram like on #bluewine💙 and #bluewinelovers. The wine looks very unique and intriguing in photos online with people wondering how can wine be blue? The primary taste of most blue wines can reportedly have a variation from citrusy to very sweet but with a very sharp taste. Some of the wines are not radiant blue like Gïk wine. Some of them are a turquoise blue due to the base colour being a visible golden colour before the blue agent was added in.

Blue wine from left to right: Marques de Alcantara Blue Chardonnay, Aviva, Vindigo, Revolution Blue, Azul Mediterrean, Alma Azul CHardonnay Still, Passion Blue Chardonnay, Gik, Naked Grape, Villa Jolanda Blue Moscato Wine
Blue wine from left to right: Marques de Alcantara Blue Chardonnay, Aviva, Vindigo, Revolution Blue, Azul Mediterrean, Alma Azul Chardonnay Still, Passion Blue Chardonnay, Gik, Naked Grape, Villa Jolanda Blue Moscato Wine

The Dyes Used in Blue Wine

There are two popular types of blue dyes used in blue winemaking. Indigo extracts and anthocyanins come from plants, fruits and vegetables. They are easily found in nature. The combination of these blue pigments can create a radiant blue hue.

But just to discuss the other way to get a radiant blue hue in drinks would be the artificial food colouring Brilliant Blue FCF.

Indigo Plant

Woad Blue #17173F
HEX Code for Woad Blue #17173F

The colour is from the first blue wine is from an indigo plant. The extracts from the Isatis tinctoria plant otherwise known as Woad. This was once very expensive to produce a dye that was popular in 17th century Europe. This dye has a very deep blue hue that has a bad wrap for being a bit of an invasive species in the U.S.A. The true indigo comes from this plant and originates from Portugal. It’s biodegradable and safe for the environment.

Anthocyanins

The other very popular all-natural way to create a natural blue hue in wine would be using anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are coloured water-soluble pigments belonging to the phenolic group that create the reds, purples and blue hues in fruits and vegetables. The blue colour in wine could be from the red grape pulp but this depends on the production process of the wine itself. The colour comes from the pH level, light, temperature and structure. With acids like in alkaline solutions added in can turn reds into blues. The chemical would change colour by its pH level is high. Violets would be around 7-8 pH level but blues would be at a high 11.

Flavylium cation, which is the basic structure of anthocyanin, can increase in highly stable acidic aqueous solutions but in the removal of protons of the flavylium ion can increase in pH in an alcoholic solution. This is possibly how red wine is visibly purplish-red at low pH levels but bluish-red at high pH levels. Red wine is 2.5 to 4.0 pH level the red flavylium cation substantially converts to blue quinonoidal species.

Artificial Colouring

This is different from other types of blue wines which take their colour from the artificial dye Brilliant Blue FCF. This is the same type of dye found in Blue Curaçao, and most blue foods, supplements, medications and cosmetics. Brilliant blue dye is soluble in water and from a concentration of 2-formylbenzenesulfonic acid. It can be absorbed easily into the bloodstream. It has been used to stain cell walls, bacteria and fungal cells due to its non-toxic qualities.

Is blue wine too funky to be a wine?

But wine can be anything fermented. There’s even a green wine that is made out of cannabis. It takes its colour out of the chlorophyll from the leaves. The colour is a radiant green similar to the original radiant absinthe colour. Also, there are other types of wines made from wacky ingredients like corn cob wine.

Blue wine is somewhat a red wine with a possibly high pH level. But the wine might be something completely different which might make old established businesses that work with time tested out-in-the-field methods question the new science of the new beverage formed from a laboratory. A high pH level uses to indicate bacterial growth and acidity changes affect the intensity of the taste. It’s a part of the four fundamentals of winemaking with sweetness, alcohol and tannin. It is also important in food pairings mixing oily versus fatty tastes. Acids and pH levels are a little complex to talk about since I never made my own wine before.


References:

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health – Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits

The Drinks Business – French institute sees red over blue wine

Decanter – ‘Blue wine’ trend grows as Vindigo sold in France

Decanter – Investigation launched into blue wine producer

Cosmopolitan – I Tried That New Blue Wine and Here’s What It Really Tastes Like

Wine Folly – Understanding Acidity in Wine

0 comments on “What makes blue wine so blue?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: