Where color comes from
Color is the first and easiest distinguishing feature of wine. As we hinted at earlier, the main difference between red and white wine is that grape juice used to make red wine contains skins, seeds, and stems. This is significant for the following reason: leaving juice to mix together with the woody bits (known as maceration) causes the finished product to contain something we briefly mentioned earlier - tannins. If the term tannin is bugging you because you don`t really get what we`re talking about, just think about a strong cup of tea. That woody taste is tannin. In wine, it can lend a wonderful complexity to a red wine. As a general rule of thumb, red wines are heavier and more complex than white wines. White wines are usually a good place for beginners to start because they are initially more palatable to novices since they often tend to be sweeter.
The reason you need to be aware of the differences between red and white wine is because one of the oldest rules in fine dining is that you should attempt to harmonize your choice of food and drink. If you are going to be eating something delicate with subtle tastes, the Rule states, you should avoid drinking something with a strong flavor that will overshadow the food. Conversely, a hearty meal will often be best complimented by a strong wine with flavor of its own.
The rationale behind the Rule
A specific corollary of the Rule is that white wines tend to go best with fish and white meats, like chicken and pork; red wines go best with red meat and red sauces. Another adjutant to the Rule is that you should begin with lighter wines and progress to heavier ones throughout the course of the meal. This policy again reflects the idea that you should not overburden your palate: if you start with a strong drink, your taste buds will be shot and you won"t be able to enjoy anything that comes after it. That is why aperitifs are typically light drinks while dessert liquids, like port, are rich and heavy.