Orange wine is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t referring to a wine made with oranges nor is it a Mimosa cocktail (a blend of 1 part orange juice to 2 parts sparkling wine.) Orange wine is something entirely different.
Orange wines have zero additives: they’re vegan, sulfite-free and unlike any white wine you’ve ever tasted.
To make an orange wine you take white grapes, mash them up and put them in large cement or ceramic vessels. Then they are left untouched for a while (from 4 days to over a year!) with the skins and seeds still attached. It’s a very natural making process that uses no additives whatsoever, not even yeast. Orange wines taste different than regular white wines with little to no floral and fruit characteristics. They have sour taste from the wild yeast fermentation and nuttiness from oxidation.
“Make sure you’re sitting down when you taste your first orange wine.”
The term Orange Wine was coined by British wine importer David Harvey at Raeburn Fine Wine to describe a non-interventionist style of white winemaking. You may also hear the term “Ramato” which means “auburn” in Italian and typically refers to Italian Pinot Grigio made in an orange wine style.
What Does Orange Wine Taste Like?
Orange wines have been described as robust and bold with honeyed aromas of jackfruit (a fleshy tropical fruit), hazelnut, Brazil nut, bruised apple, wood varnish, linseed oil, juniper, sourdough and dried orange rind. On the palate, they’re big, dry, and even have tannin like a red wine with a sourness in their taste similar to fruit beer. Often they’re so intense that you might want to make sure you’re sitting down when you taste your first orange wine.
The deep color of orange wine comes from lignin in grapeseeds.
Food Pairing with Orange Wines
Orange wine paired with food at Klinec in Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Because of their boldness, orange wines pair excellently with bolder foods including curry dishes, Moroccan cuisine, Ethiopian cuisine (like those spongelike pancakes called Injera), Korean dishes with fermented kimchi such as bibim bap, and traditional Japanese cuisine including fermented soybeans (Natto). Due to high phenolic content (tannin and bitterness) along with the nutty tartness, orange wines pair with a wide variety of meats from beef to fish.
Where Do Orange Wines Come From?
The process of making orange wines is very old, but the reinvigoration of this ancient process has only come about in the last 20 odd years. The origins of orange wines go as far back as 6000 BC in Caucasus (modern-day Georgia–not the state) where wines were fermented in large subterranean vessels called Qvevri (“Kev-ree”) which were closed with stones and sealed with beeswax.
Orange wine served in a traditional fashion with food at Klinec in Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Orange wines are still very rare, but many countries have growing interest in this natural winemaking style.
Most orange winemaking can be found in northeastern Italy along the border of Slovenia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Here you can find orange wines produced with indigenous grapes of the region including Sauvignon Vert (Friulano), Ribolla Gialla and Pinot Grigio. The orange wine process was popularized in Italy by winemaker Josko Gravner who first attempted an orange wine in 1997.
Example Italian Orange Wine Producers:
- Bressan “Carat” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- Antonio Caggiano “Béchar” (Campania)
- Donati Camillo “Malvasia dell’Emilia” (Emilia Romagna)
- Frank Cornelissen “Munjebel” (Sicily)
- Cos (Sicily)
- Gravner (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- Edi Kante (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- Angiolino Maule “Sassaia” (Gambellara, Veneto)
- Radikon (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- Rinaldini (Emilia Romagna)
- Franco Terpin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- I Vigneri by Salvo Foti (Sicily)
Just over the border from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy is the region of Goriška Brda (“Gore-eesh-kah Barda”) in Slovenia which has a long history of orange winemaking. The wine is very well-integrated here and you’ll often see wines poured in standard glasses, like beer. There is another odd wine to be found here, called Motnik, which is made in a natural method in barrels that are disinfected by smoking herbs such as rosemary, bay leaves and sage.
Example Slovenian Orange Wine Producers:
- Movia “Lunar”
A Kvevri is an ancient Georgian fermentation vessel that is buried in the ground to control the temperature.
Georgia is most famous for their qvevri-aged wines. Qvevri (aka Kvevri) were the first vessels ever to be used for wine fermentation, with archaeological finds dating back to 6000 BC. Qvevri are clay vessels lined with beeswax and completely buried under the ground where the temperature stays even throughout the year, allowing the wines to ferment in the natural coolness of the earth. The grape of choice from Georgia for natural qvevri wines is called Rkatsiteli (“Awr-kat-seh-telly”) which is known to produce wine with a deep red-orange hue.
Example Georgian Orange Wine Producers:
- Pheasant’s Tears
- Alaverdi Monastery “Gurjaani” in Kakheti
- Our Wine in Kakheti
- Tbilvino “Quevris”
- Lagvinari “Goruli Mtsvane,” “Tsolikouri” and “Tsitska”
Some of the more experimental producers are starting to make natural wines and experimenting with the orange wine technique, particularly in New York where the variety Rkatsiteli (“Awr-kat-seh-telly”) is grown.
Example United States Orange Wine Producers:
- Channing Daughters “Meditazione,” “Ribolla Gialla” and “Ramato” (New York)
- Pax Mahle
- Red Hook Winery “SK” series (New York)
- Scholium Project by Abe Schoener (Suisun Valley, California)
- Shinn Estate Vineyards “Veil” by Anthony Nappa (New York)
- Wind Gap Wines “Pinot Gris”
The more progressive Aussie winemakers have started to make orange wines primarily with Sauvignon Blanc, which works wonders in this style.
Example Australian Orange Wine Producers:
- BK Wines “Skin and Bones White” (Adelaide Hills)
- Born & Raised Wines Sauvignon Blanc (Victoria)
- Lucy Margaux Vineyards (Adelaide Hills)
- Paul Sullivan
In France, there is a region east of Burgundy that produces rich orange-hued wines. The Jura region (famous for Comté cheese) makes nutty-tart wines called Vin Jaune and Côtes du Jura which both use oxidative style of winemaking with a rare grape called Savagnin (and sometimes Chardonnay).
Example French Orange Wines:
- Vin Jaune an orange wine appellation (Jura)
- Côtes du Jura an orange wine appellation (Jura)
- Chateau-Chalon an orange wine appellation (Jura)
- Jean-Yves Peron (Savoie)
- La Sorga (Languedoc Roussillon)
- Domaine Gauby “La Roque White” (Côtes Catalanes)
The progressive winemakers in South Africa can be found mostly in the Swartland region in the Western Cape where the vineyards are quite old and have less popular grapes.
Example South African Orange Wine Producers:
- Intellego “Elementis”
- Lammershoek “Cellar Foot” Series
- Sadie Family Wines “Palladius”
- Testalonga “El Bandito”
Example Austrian Orange Wine Producers:
- Strohmeier (Steiermark)
- Werlitsch “Amphorenwein” and “Werlitsch” (Steiermark)
- Maria & Sepp Muster “Gräfin” and “Erde” (Steiermark)
By Madeline Puckette
I’m a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards. Find her at@WineFolly
***Grabbed from: http://winefolly.com/review/orange-wine/