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I have a question about wine


Hi all,

We have had quite a few very successful AMA from various buyers and members of staff around the business on specific regions or types of wine. I have realised that all of the questions asked are usually very specific to that region such as top sub regions or why I should buy A vs B but nothing about more general wine knowledge.

I thought I would start a thread for ANYONE on the community to simply ask a question they want to know about wine but didn’t know who to ask. I am sure someone on here will be able to answer it or we might have a useful article that can help. We might even look to create additional articles for the site to help out other members if there are any common themes.

Examples could be:

Is all Riesling sweet?
What is that odd drying feeling I taste when trying red wine?
Whats’s the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico?

Remember, the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!


Right, I’ll kick off.

Why do some reds paint my teeth/tongue purple, whilst others leave things more or less untouched?

It’s not simply grape variety, because for example a few glasses of Limarí syrah will redecorate my mouth in a way that Crozes-Hermitage won’t. But then again pinot from anywhere has never done it, as far as I can remember. Claret can go either way. Some Aussie cabernets do very little; others, in the same quantity, make it look like I’ve been chewing on marker pens. Ditto Mendoza malbec.

Is it about tannin? Pigment? Acidity (or lack thereof)? Residual sugar? An unpredictable combination of these and more? I’m not drinking them differently, I’m pretty sure of that.

The closest I get to identifying a pattern is that perhaps a riper style is more likely to do it, but there seems to be more at work than that.

Anyhow, I’m very open to the idea that I’m missing something embarrassingly obvious and just overthinking things as usual. But I’m equally happy to be hit with science+++ if that’s the answer, so go for it.


I am not able to answer assuredly, but thinking it could come from either mega purple which is added to some wines to enhance flavour, mouthfeel etc. or perhaps from the level of extraction that goes on.


I have a feeling that the red/purple on the teeth is to do with the level of pigment in the underlying grape type, I believe it also depends on how hydrated you are and if you have eaten recently as this changes the PH of your saliva.

It might also be something to do with the level of filtration the wine or aging the might have undergone as I know some of the buyers have very purple stained teeth when sampling many of the EP wines from barrel.


I have a feeling that this is to do with extraction and pumping during the fermentation process. The more time the skins are left to ferment and the more times that these are pumped over or stirred the more pigment and tannins is extracted. Obviously this will work different with every grape variety, but also with every vintage and picking times might affect too due to ripeness. Not an easy answer, but I think basically the more extraction during the fermentation the more you will end up with a purple mouth. And this can happen with any red grape that goes through a heavy fermentation process.


Which prompts the question what on earth is mega purple?


Thanks for the replies! Some of my suspicions were confirmed, and some of it hadn’t occurred to me at all, especially the state of my mouth before drinking! And of course extraction, that makes sense.

Don’t know the intricacies, but it’s a very, very concentrated colouring agent for giving wines the ‘right’ look if you want the ‘right’ scores from the ‘right’ critics. I didn’t know it was still a thing, to be honest, but I guess it still goes on in some quarters.


Sort yourself out…:rofl:


The reviews aren’t great. Might as well chew on a wet wipe or a baby wipe!


The Zorzal wasn’t too bad in that department in the end! Anyway, I’m more of a toothpaste kind of guy :tooth::tooth:


Hi @M1tch

I have a few questions and queries, (rambling musings perhaps is more apt a description!) please…I hope it is what you were looking for from your post?!:slight_smile:

There are many different colours and shades of glass used to make wine bottles…clear glass for rose, to show off the colour I suppose, and which is generally consumed soon after bottling so not expected to be kept very long, so a tinted glass isn’t needed to protect the wine over many years from spoiling due to uv (assuming that coloured glass is used for that reason, and for no other, although if a wine is kept in a dark cellar I suppose it doesn’t matter what colour the glass is.) However, wines expected to be drunk young are sold in tinted glass bottles too, and I imagine it would take a few years for a wine in clear glass exposed to sunlight to spoil in anycase (or maybe not?) so why not sell them in clear glass? Is it a cost thing, is clear glass more expensive to produce than green or brown?

Is there a set rule to determine whether green glass or brown glass (and many shades of those colours) should be used? German Riesling for example tends to be in brown glass bottles, but sometimes green, so is it as I suspect random and up to the owner what he uses?

Also, is there a set rule to determine bottle shape used for different types of wine, or has it just evolved over the years and become the expected standard for a particular grape or region? If a traditional claret shaped bottle was used for a Burgundy wine it would taste the same, so is it purely historical why certain regions and countries use certain shaped bottles? It helps the consumer know what wine is on the shelf based on the bottle shape, so from a marketing and style perspective it is the way it has been done for years and there is no need to change?

Would it be possible to have red wine produced in a bottle where the colour could be assessed, to see how it was ageing? If it is in a dark green bottle that is impossible. Maybe with advances in technology and production methods a bottle may be produced in 98% green glass with a 2% window or ring in clear glass to see what colour the wine was? Or would that be a waste of time as the colour of wine is only a hint of how mature and ready to drink a vintage is, and so not worth the expense?

Many thanks!


I am sure there will be others along to answer a few additional parts to your questions but with regards to the colour of the bottle and wine degradation owing to UV transmission:


Clear glass - 90% can pass though
Green glass - 70% can pass though
Amber glass - 0-20% can pass though in different wavelengths

This is why the clear Cristal Champagne bottles are packed/wrapped in the UV protective wrapping.

Light strike in wine can start to damage a wine in as little as an hour which is why its not a good idea to purchase wine from the window of a wine merchants for example. Its worth noting that we have upgraded the showroom windows with UV blocking film over the window glass to avoid the possibility of light strike on any of the wine. I seem to remember someone a while ago mentioned that they used to run a wine shop and they basically had to tip away any wine used in any of their window displays due to light strike.

With regards to different bottle shape, its due to the history and region the wine usually comes from, for German and Alsace wines they were traditionally transported around internally on barges on smooth canals. A tall thinner bottle made sense for transport as they didn’t need to be that strong and you can move more bottles at a time… On the other side Bordeaux and Burgundy bottles needed to withstand longer journeys when being exported over land and sea which is why they are usually thicker and have a punt in the bottom of the bottle.


@M1tch. Thank you very much, very interesting and informative. I haven’t come across the term light strike before, and had no idea it was such a destructive process. TWS leave nothing to chance heh, tinting their windows, we are very well looked after!


Thanks so much for kicking this chat off, @M1tch! Great idea.

As a matter of fact, it also ties in nicely with this post I did (which got a bit buried/forgotten about) a few months ago:

So some of these questions could well be a good topic for further exploration and even more detailed answers! Keep 'em coming…


@ChrisB - just to add a little to what @M1tch has already said on the subject of lightstrike -

There is a really helpful article by Alex Hunt, published on Jancis’s website which covers this in more detail (link below). It is both accessible and has the technical detail.
The problem of Lightstrike

Suffice to say it’s quite a significant potential problem. Serious wine lovers should be aware.


Others have answered the main points, but on German wines: Normally (everything has exceptions) green for Mosel; brown for Rheingau; green for many of the rest…


… and although the flute is probably the most recognisable German/Alsatian bottle, there is also the Franconian Bocksbeutel. I also think the Rhine flute is a bit thinner than the Mosel one, but perhaps I’m making this up.


Ah I forgot about that style of bottle - still used for Portuguese wines as well like the Mateus rose!


Thank you @Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis a very interesting article, much appreciated.


That’s an excellent bit of info on different colours of German bottles! (Pub quiz anyone?)