Although it has been widely misunderstood and is now hugely popular, punchy orange wines pair well with full-flavored foods.
Its fans praise it as unique, quirky, dynamic, and unbelievably flexible. Critics dismiss it as a crappy Instagram trend. This is the strange world of orange wine. It’s a place where strong-tasting orange wine has provoked strong opinions.
Before we can even begin to discuss orange wine, let’s clear the air. Orange wine is not made of oranges but from white wines. It is not from New South Wales, Australia’s Orange wine region. Nor is it a mixture of red and white wines. Don’t confuse orange wine and vino Naranja, both from Andalucia, Southern Spain. Vino de Naranja is a white wine that has been macerated with bitter orange peel. This is a completely different production method than orange wine.
How is orange wine made?
White grapes are fermented normally without skins to produce the white wines. Orange wine is made from crushed white grapes that have been partially macerated or skin contact before being pressed. This contact with the skin is what imparts the aroma, as well as the desired level of tannins. Meanwhile, the organic compounds in the skin (including phenols or carotenoids) work their magic to create an orange hue naturally.
Although the contact time can be as short as 12 hours or as long as 12 months, most producers allow skin contact for between 10 and 60 days. The orange wine will develop a richer, more beautiful color if it has been in contact for a longer period.
Sometimes you might also hear ramato, the Italian word for auburn and copper. However, connoisseurs would rush back to emphasize that Yamato should refer only to wine made from Pinot Grigio grapes grown in Friuli, Italy.
Where is orange wine produced?
The method of making orange wine can be traced back to Georgia, a country located at the eastern tip of the Black Sea. Georgia is the “cradle” of winemaking, with its winemaking traditions dating back at most 8,000 years. Over the centuries, Georgian winemakers fermented local grape varieties (mainly Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane Kakhuri) in large, lemon-shaped, beeswax-lined terracotta containers, qvevri or kvevri. They sealed the pots and buried them under a stone floor or ground. The pot is sometimes called an amphora. Georgian winemakers also adhere to the lunar cycle. For example, they sow during the new moon phase and bottle during the full phase.
More recently, winemakers have made orange wine in Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region. This is in addition to the Goriska Brda region in Slovenia. Josko Gravner from Collio Goriziano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Giulia is one of these winemakers. He is known as the man who introduced orange wine to the world. He visited Georgia in 2000 to learn about the ancient techniques. He returned to Italy and imported some very from Georgia, where he began making wine the old-fashioned way. His first batches of orange wine were highly structured and brilliantly colored. They also impressed winemakers. A new generation of orange wines was born.
It is worth noting that orange wine was first labeled in 2004. A British wine importer, David Harvey, described what he saw in a Sicilian vineyard. The term was quickly adopted as a catch-all term.
Today, orange wine producers are not limited to Slovenia, Georgia, Italy, and Slovenia. You will find orange wines from Australia, Austria, and Slovenia. Australia’s wine experts have told us that the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety is ideal for making orange wines.
What does orange wine taste like?
Although orange wines are not the same as red or white wines, there are some common points. The aroma is slightly nutty, with a palate with intense, savory, and faintly fruity flavors. There is also a tannin level similar to a lighter red wine and some sourness.
The label on a bottle will indicate how orange wine tastes. It should also detail the amount of skin contact. In other words, less skin contact equals lighter and mellower wines. A longer maceration time can produce very unusual and very astringent results. This is why it’s best to reserve for zealots.
The growing popularity of orange wines means that the drink can be found more often in wine bars. If you are unsure where to begin, visit a wine bar to get some advice or create a tasting flight.
Talabani Georgian Wine
This award-winning wine is made from white Rkatsiteli grapes. It was produced using the traditional qvevri process. The nose is full-bodied, and the palate is smooth with an earthy flavor. There is a nice tannin that helps carry everything through. It has a 12.5% alcohol content and is priced at PS14.49.
What should you pair with orange wine?
Orange wine combines the best of red and white wines. It is therefore capable of complementing many foods and flavors.
Orange wine is a red wine with the same structure as red wine but without the heaviness. Experts recommend it paired with red meats, fatty seafood, mature cheeses, and deep-fried dishes. It is also great with flavorful dishes such as Indian Jalfrezi curry and Spanish paella.
However, if you buy an orange wine that’s still young, you might pair it with a lighter meal.