top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Butler

White on red, nothing moves, red on white, everything goes: myth or reality?

Which wine to serve first at a dinner party? There are many preconceived ideas about colour and wine pairings. Some of them are true, while others are the stuff of legend. Here are our tips and explanations.

We all know those phrases that we repeat without really knowing if they make sense. These thoughts anchored in the collective unconscious, coming from who knows where, and which seem so banal that we would never dare to suppose that they are false. Wine is no exception.

White on red, nothing moves, red on white, everything goes wrong

This is probably the one we've heard since our first communion, and to which we attribute a few rude awakenings. The origin of the expression comes from the Navy: if the white flag is above the red one, the sailors stay on board and nobody moves. On the other hand, if it's free, everyone can go and have a quick one or two in the bars in the port. Some people think that it is actually Burgundian, and that it is customary to drink the chardonnay before starting the pinot noir. In reality, it's not a question of colour, but rather a question of the wrong mix. The golden rule is to start with the lightest and driest wines, and then move on to the most powerful and tannic ones, and therefore from white to red.

Is it really bad to mix spirits?

There is another rule that is no less relevant: never mix fruit spirits and grain spirits. You should not mix beer, wine and spirits in a time frame that is too short for the body to metabolise everything properly - a bold move that carries the risk of ending up with a rosewood piggy bank in the morning.

Is rosé a mixture of white and red?

Whether it's a vague memory from art class or a simple intuition, there's no denying that when it comes to paint, red and white invariably lead to pink. But the idea that rosé is a clever blend of red and white wine is 99% false. In fact, rosé is made from red grape varieties whose skins macerate with the pressed juice, just like a red, but for a shorter time, resulting in a lighter colour. A proto-red, so to speak. The remaining 1% comes from the only region where mixing red and white is allowed, namely Champagne - and, for some years now, from wines outside the appellations that take the liberty of mixing grape varieties of different colours, for blends known under the amusing nickname of "blouge".

Red wine puts you to sleep, white wine excites you

"White wine doesn't work for me". Who hasn't heard this sentence from a friend while pouring a second glass of côte-rôtie? In fact, studies show that the sugar content of some white wines can disrupt sleep, having an exciting effect similar to caffeine, while the higher concentration of anti-oxidants in red wine can make you more likely to fall asleep.

18 views0 comments


Wine Encyclopedia.png

HK Butler Wine Encyclopedia

Keep a foot in the vineyard with our wine encyclopedia written by experts around the globe. The most up-to-date and comprehensive wine reference in the world, this stunning book is an oenophile's dream--and a must-have for anyone looking to become an expert in wine.

bottom of page