Russula vinacea has a smooth non-striate, dark reddish-purple cap sometimes splashed with ochre and having nearly black slightly depressed center. White to cream gills are closely spaced and somewhat broad. White stipe bruises brown and slowly becomes gray with maturity. Faint scent of apples. Spores pure white. Mycorrhizal with hardwoods, especially oak and hickory. It is often one of the first russulas to appear.