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Ruby vs. Garnet

At our weekly tasting group this week I brought up a discussion about Ruby vs. Garnet.  I have a background as a lighting designer and visual artist and had always viewed Ruby as the lighter in hue color and Garnet being the darker in hue.  My group and the grid seems to differ from my understanding.  Garnet is lighter and moves darker to ruby then to purple according to the grid.  I'm just trying to reconcile my understanding.  Any thoughts or insight?  Or should I just shift my paradigm to fit with the grid?


    I've always seen Ruby as darker, in general. Friend is a jeweler and said most natural Rubies are generally darker, but synthetics can be much lighter.

  • Ive always considered these to be more a consideration of hue rather than intensity. Garnet having a red/rust approaching orange color. Ruby being a more traditional "red" with notes of blue and violet. 

  • Ruby is just red, Garnet is more red than brown, Tawny is more brown than red, and brown is brown. It's nothing to do with intensity of colour. Hope that helps. 

  • This is the explanation that I remember getting from the MSs that were leading our Intro course.  Garnet tends to imply some browning.  This then implies that the wine either has some age on it or is a lower-pigmented variety.

  • Garnet, at least according to every MS I've ever heard talk about it, is an orange-ish color, most often expressed at the very rim of a wine. 

    Wines that frequently have garnet as part of their color in the glass would include, but are not limited to

    Young 100% Grenache from the Rhone/Australia (see: Rayas, Yangarra, 100% grenache cuvees from d'Arrenberg) 

    Young Nebbiolo (Barbaresco > Barolo) 

    Wines with large % of stem inclusion, particularly on thin skin varieties (see: Dujac, whole cluster pinot in general - Burlotto, if you want whole cluster + Nebbiolo) 

    Middle-maturity examples of many red-colored varieties (i.e. mid-late 90s Burgundy, middle 90s Sangiovese, late 90s Chateauneuf) and very mature dark-skinned varieties (middle 80s Bordeaux/Rioja/N. Rhone Syrah, Cali Cabernet) - note, in very mature wines (pre-1980), garnet will often be the interim color between ruby/dark ruby in the core out to tawny/brown at the very exterior meniscus

    Wines that almost certainly will never include garnet as a color

    Young Argentine Malbec

    Young Bordeaux (left bank, especially) 

    Young California anything (excepting heavy whole cluster Pinot producers and one offs examples like Agela Osborne's A Tribute to Grace Grenache) 

    Young Aussie Shiraz

    Modernist Rioja 

    Loire Valley Cabernet Franc (excepting the whole cluster situation) 

    Almost anything made out of a Bordeaux variety, especially from the new world

    I'm sure that doesn't cover all of it, but it's a pretty good set of guidelines. 

  • Being colorblind has always made this a crapshoot for me anyways...

  • Thank you! This is great! 

  • This is one that stuck with me for years and I picked it up in the Intro Course (Im pretty sure it was who laid this gem on me)

    The Orange Rim grapes for Blind Tasting:

    2 from France, 2 From Spain, and 2 from Italy

    Pinot Noir and Merlot (France)
    Garnacha and Tempranillo (Spain)
    Nebbiolo and Sangiovese (Italy)

    This is for grapes, and not just regions and over the years I have observed this still holds up and is a salient piece of information...

    Good luck Jason

  • I've often wondered how this works out for colorblind people in an blind tasting situation. 

  • Way back at my intro class, Ron Edwards told me Ruby is red plus blue, Garnet is red plus yellow. I've used that as my guidepost when doing sight ever since. 

  • This was a point of contention in our Monday night group for a long time. I've always held to the grid, stating that garnet is lighter hued.

  • So for purposes of marking the grid, when do we mark garnet?  When there is browning/ orange at the edges?  Or when there is a uniformity of brownish red throughout the whole wine?  If the latter, then I would think vast majority of wines would be marked as Ruby, no?

  • I never even thought of what it must be like to blind colorblind. Does this wine have green or silver reflections? Is this red Ruby vs garnet? Damn. I wonder if CMS have had to proctor with this situation often and how it was handled? Seems kind of unfair to dock points for something somebody cannot improve or change.