Have you ever seen red wine in a clear bottle? No? Us neither. And if you have, chances are it wasn’t the best bottle you ever popped. But what about a white or a rosé in a clear bottle? Now that’s something we see on the regular.
So what’s the deal? Why is it so important for red wine to come in green bottles, but white and rosé can come in whatever color bottle they damn well please? The answer, of course, is science.
Wine naturally has antioxidants that protect it from oxidizing – essentially, turning into vinegar. But when sunlight reacts with wine it can break down these antioxidants and prevent them from doing their job of preserving and protecting what’s inside your bottle. Darker tinted bottles – like the green ones we know so well – can help protect against this kind of damage.
Another issue that can occur is what is known as lightstrike. When UV rays from either the sun or florescent lighting penetrate a bottle they cause the fruit flavors in the wine to become stinky, like an overcooked vegetable. While this is something that occurs more often in very delicate or light wines, it could still be minimized by using darker colored bottles – and by storing wine out of direct light.
Given all that we have just learned, it makes even less sense that white, delicate wines should be left unprotected in clear glass bottles – but there is one more factor to consider. Darker tinted bottles are intended to help wine last longer in the bottle as it ages, so if you see a white wine or a rosé in a clear glass bottle, chances are that it’s a wine that is meant to be opened while it’s still young, rather than aging it for years and years. Rosé is definitely a wine that would fall into the young-drinker category. When it comes to rosé, you want it fresh.