Orange Wine – what is is, how it tastes and no, nothing to do with oranges
You might not have come across orange wine in your local wine shop, but you might have seen it on trendy restaurant menus or suggested by a keen sommelier.
Although orange wine used to be common, it has yet to make its way into the mainstream. However, it has built up a strong following over the past few decades. Its photogenic quality ranges from a stunning tangerine hue to a more muted golden tone, and you might have spotted it on Instagram.
What orange wine is
So, what is orange wine, exactly? Despite its name and appearance, it's not made from oranges, nor is it artificially coloured, nor is it a type of wine cocktail. Orange wine is all natural. It's produced by keeping the skins on white grapes during fermentation.
Orange wine has actually been around for centuries, with wine experts believing it was first enjoyed in Georgia, Europe, as far back as 6000 B.C. It fell into obscurity over thousands of years but experienced a recent resurgence around 20 years ago. Today, Australian, South African, and New York wineries, alongside Georgian, Slovenian, and Italian wineries, are producing exciting orange wines.
The technical term for this style of wine is skin-contact wine, due to how these golden wines are made. It's worth noting that David A. Harvey, a British wine importer, is credited with coining the term "orange wine."
How orange wine's made
Orange wine is made through a process that is distinct from other types of wine such as red, white, sparkling, and rose. In the case of white wine, winemakers remove the skins and pips from the grapes before pressing them, which removes most of the tannins and determines the wine's colour. Red wine, on the other hand, is made by leaving the grape skins on during fermentation, which produces a deeply red-coloured wine that is high in tannins. Rosé wine is created in a similar way, but with a shorter amount of time for the grape skins to remain in contact with the juice.
Skin-contact or orange wines are made using white grapes with their skins left on, allowing the fermenting juice to absorb tannins and achieve a deeper colour. While most skin-contact wines are golden yellow in colour, some have a bright amber hue. Some people view orange wine as more "natural" because leaving the skins on involves less interference from the winemaker, but this is not entirely accurate, as biodynamic wines involve a more complex process.
What's orange wine taste like?
Ok, so we think this is completely subjective (because taste just is that way), but, gotta start somewhere so let's give this a try...
As orange wine is made from different types of white grapes, its flavour profile can vary greatly depending on the grape variety used. However, due to the use of grape skins during production, orange wine has a higher tannin content than white wines, resulting in a more complex and unique taste.
Generally, orange wines are described as robust and full-bodied, with a depth of flavour similar to red wines but with the refreshing qualities of white wines. Common tasting notes include bruised fruit, jackfruit, savoury flavours like hazelnut, fruit beer, and apricot. Some orange wines are so intensely flavoured that they can only be enjoyed in small quantities.
Orange wines are particularly popular in Italy, with traditional Italian wine grapes being widely used to produce them. The Friuli region in Northern Italy is especially famous for its amber wines. Notable orange wines to try include Orange Pinot Grigio, which is known for its honeysuckle, stone fruit, and citrus notes, and Orange Sauvignon Blanc, which has apricot, saffron, and orange peel flavours. Orange Riesling, with its complex sour flavours, is a polarising wine that some may love, while others may find it a little strange for a wine.
Saying that, we've been making orange wine in southern Spain from the Mediterranean Verdejo grape and damn is it delicious and something special.
How to serve orange wine in a can
To serve your orange wine in the best way possible, you should consider the wine varietal you have. While most white wines taste great when cool, you may enjoy fuller-bodied orange wines at a slightly higher temperature. Dessert orange wines and sparkling orange wines, on the other hand, are best served chilled. If you're unsure whether to refrigerate your wine, check out more tips online.
Our orange wine tastes great a number of different ways because you get totally different flavours from it depending on the temperature:
also, over ice or in a spritzer
Give each a try and see how you like it best.
Pairing orange wine with food
When it comes to pairing food with orange wine, it can be a bit trickier than with white wines due to their complex flavours and nutty qualities. One way to match the boldness of your orange wine is to pair it with equally bold food, such as traditional Japanese and Korean dishes. Fermented kimchi, soy beans, and wasabi make for great companions to orange wine.
Come get some
Orange wines, also known as skin-contact wines, have been around for a long time but have recently experienced a revival. Made from white wine grapes with their skins left on, orange wines are complex and higher in tannins while maintaining a refreshing quality. Trying an orange wine is a great way to experience something new.
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