The color of wine can be one of the wine lover's greatest pleasures.
And whether the old-man piss of an orange wine or the Bologna red of a Nebbiolo (like the Barolo in the image above), the hue of wine not only delivers aesthetic reward but also serves as a gauge of the wine's fitness.
Whenever we pour, taste and experience wine, its first impact on the senses is visual. In many cases, we can determine whether or not the wine is fit to drink just from looking at it.
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But in order to examine its color and opacity properly, wine professionals will often hold the glass against a white surface, whether a fine linen white tablecloth or a paper napkin (almost always available at hand's reach when you're opening wine).
The "white balance" gives us the most pure expression of the wine's chromatic character, in this case a 1998 Bartolo Mascarello that I pulled from my wine cellar this week. I'm happy to report that it showed wonderfully.