This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
Light has an effect upon beverages that few appreciate, or have knowledge of, but as learned in a general way from the more or less uncertain opinions sifting through the trade upon the subject. Scientific experiment, however, has demonstrated the deleterious effect of light upon all saccharine and malt beverages. Liquids contained in colorless bottles, when exposed for some time to the light, acquire a disagreeable taste, notwithstanding the fact that they may have been of superior quality before being so treated. On the other hand, beverages contained in dark brown, amber, or the various shades of green remain unchanged in quality, even if exposed to direct sunlight.
That light has a disturbing influence upon beverages there is no doubt, though we have heard well-informed men in the glass trade question it. The actinic effect of light (that power of the sun's rays by which chemical changes are produced) is not as thoroughly understood as it might be by bottlers, and the character and color of bottle-ware is determined more by fancy than intelligent knowledge of its requirements. As a rule, bottlers manufacturing drinks of a turbid nature seek ware that will effectually conceal any imperfections so far as clearness and precipitates go; beyond that desideratum slight consideration is given to color.
While serving to show off the contents to advantage, the white ware is ruinous to the quality of the beverage. For this reason wines are put up exclusively in colored bottles, and though departures have been made from this custom, it has always been a costly experiment, except where the goods were sent out for immediate consumption.
Colored glass prevents the white rays of light from acting upon the contents of the bottle, and is an effectual barrier against the chemical changes so mysteriously effected by the unrestricted entrance of one of nature's most powerful agents and stimulants. White bottles, therefore, are unfitted for bottlers' use, except for bottling plain waters. Since the chemical action of light has an appreciably damaging effect upon different liquids, it follows that green, orange, yellow, amber or opaque bottles are alone suitable for both carbonated and fermented beverages, while colorless, blue and violet are to be discarded.