What is orange wine? You might have seen it in restaurants and wine stores lately, but how much do you know about it?
Personally, I love orange aka skin contact wine, which is why I’m very excited to share this post with you!
To put it simply, orange wine is a white wine made like red wine. Still not sure what that means?
Usually, white grapes are crushed and pressed before fermentation, so that there are no skins or seeds left for the fermentation process. While making orange wine, on the other hand, the grapes are left with the skins and seeds for some time between a few days to even a year. The timeline depends on the winemaker’s vision for the wine.
Orange wine can be made from virtually any white varietal. It is a popular technique for more neutral grapes like Pinot Grigio, Sylvaner, and Chardonnay. However, skin contact wine is also made from aromatic grapes like Riesling and Muscat of Alexandria.
Orange wine is made with white grapes, so it has some of the aromas and flavors of white wines. Of course, the exact notes depend on the variety used to make the wine. For instance, orange wine made with Pinot Grigio is likely to have some citrus and stone fruit aromas and flavors.
The fun part, however, is the characteristics that the wine acquires due to extended skin contact. First of all, orange wine usually has a bolder, deeper, more concentrated flavor than white wine. Second, in the case of extended skin contact (think months), it can have tannins that come from the skins and seeds; sometimes it also has pronounced tartness. What is more, it acquires new aromas and flavors that range from floral and stone fruit to earthy and nutty (the nuttiness is a result of oxidation). Some of the popular flavors include sourdough, honey (without the wine being sweet), juniper, walnuts, oolong tea, and jackfruit.
Orange wine can be paired with various dishes, but thanks to its boldness and rich flavor, it goes well with equally rich and flavorful foods. Think of dishes that you would pair with a complex and fuller-bodied white wine; salmon in soy sauce can be a good example. The soy sauce adds umami flavor and slight sweetness to salmon’s fattiness, which works well with a tannic, dry orange wine.
Generally, you can pair skin contact wine with Korean, Moroccan, Ethiopian, or Balkan cuisine. However, the specific pairings would depend on the flavor characteristics of the food and the wine. If you’d like to know more about pairing rules and best practices, check out my post here.
This question is a little harder to answer. With the increasing popularity of the natural wine movement, wine producers and customers alike have been looking for new ways to explore what various varietals have to offer. At the same time, winemakers have been rediscovering old techniques and styles.
Orange wine is not a new thing. Its origin goes back to the today’s Republic of Georgia where wine has been made since approximately 6,000 BC. Georgian people were also the first winemakers to make white wine with extended skin contact (which they call amber wine).
Therefore, orange wine has been around for generations but it’s only growing in popularity now as a lot of winemakers rediscover old traditions and techniques and look for new, interesting flavors.
All of them! I would recommend tasting wines from different regions and different grapes. I always enjoy Slovenian skin-contact wines (an orange wine powerhouse), as well as Chilean (especially Muscat of Alexandria from the South of Chile), Czech, German (mostly Riesling), and Italian ones. Also, Georgian wines deserve your attention.
Basically, try as much as you can. And remember that orange wines include many different styles, just like white or red wines, so if you don’t be discouraged if you don’t love one skin contact wine.
Orange wine is white wine fermented on the skins. It can be macerated from a few days to a year or longer and the more skin contact it has, the more new characteristics it gains. Some of those characteristics can be tannins, sourness, complexity, nuttiness, stone fruit, florals, and earthy notes.
If you want to pair skin contact wine with food, think of it as full-bodied white wine with the addition of tannins. Therefore, it can be easily paired with richer dishes and meats.
Orange wines have gained popularity recently thanks to the natural wine movement which made winemakers look for forgotten techniques and discover new interesting flavors. If you want to know more about skin contact wine, you should just drink it! There’s a big range of styles and flavors, so try wines from various regions and grapes to make up your mind about it.