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It seems that all red wines are stored in green or occasionally other dark coloured bottles and white wines in clear or light coloured bottles.

Why is this?

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Dolbz, see meta.homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/6/… –  Fishtoaster Nov 15 '10 at 23:45
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The commonly repeated belief is that green bottles are better at keeping sunlight out and whites don't need this because they are often refrigerated. I never put much stock into this since worldwide refrigeration was not always common and a most wine is stored out of sunlight anyway.

A few winemakers in Sonoma told me that it was tradition based on the reasoning that reds were stored in darker bottles to hide the natural sediment that came along with those styles.

I don't know which, or if either, is true, but I'll tend to believe the tradition story over the UV-blocking reason.

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Unfortunately, the green wavelengths passed by the glass are exactly the wavelengths absorbed by the wine. –  Tristan Nov 9 '10 at 1:49
    
@Tristan hah brilliant. Can you provide a source for this? –  fearoffours Nov 9 '10 at 16:13
    
@fear here is one study comparing the UV protection offered by different colors of glass: skspolytech.com/assets/… –  pkaeding Nov 9 '10 at 20:56
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It's a combination of marketing and tradition. For better or worse you're average consumer expects white wine to come in a clear bottle.

This is not exclusive however, one example being Riesling which is traditionally bottled in brown glass.

Both white and red wine will change when exposed to light (Google "light struck wine" for plenty of interesting reading) but generally this is not as big an issue for white wine as it is usually drunk fairly young and stored cold.

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The flavour of Red Wines deteriorates greatly due to the breakdown of the wine in the bottle when exposed to UV light. White wines don't have this problem as much as they are much more filtered and do not contain tannens, etc that break down this way. That's my understanding at least, I read something along these lines in the book "Making Good Wine" (ISBN: 9781405036016).

A quick google found a very technical study performed - and I'm sure there's a lot more supporting material than this! http://www.wrap.org.uk/downloads/UV_wine_quality_May_08.8a4c4eb0.5388.pdf

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