Orange wine: everything you need to know

The future's bright; the future's orange wine

In the world of wine, the colour spectrum stretches beyond the classic red and white to embrace a unique and captivating shade: orange wine. Orange wine is a distinct style that has gained popularity among wine enthusiasts recently. Its deep-rooted history, unconventional production methods, and complex flavours make it a fascinating addition to any oenophile's repertoire. But what is orange wine, and is it worth a try?

What is orange wine?

Orange wine is made, not from oranges, but from white wine grapes. The critical difference lies in the winemaking process, which involves leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the juice during fermentation, similar to how red and rosé wines are made. This extended skin contact gives the wine its distinctive orange hue, rich tannins, and unique flavour profile.

What is the history of orange wine?

The origins of orange wine can be traced back thousands of years to Georgia. Georgians are credited with developing this winemaking technique using clay vessels known as qvevris, which were buried underground to ferment and age the wine. The tradition of orange wine production has been kept alive through generations, and it's now experiencing a renaissance in the modern wine world.

What are the characteristics of orange wine?

The distinct production method of orange wine imparts several unique characteristics:

Colour. As the name suggests, orange wine exhibits a range of hues, from pale amber to deep, rusty orange. The colour intensity is influenced by grape variety, maceration duration, and ageing vessels

Tannins. Unlike most white wines, which are typically light-bodied and with minimal (if any) tannins, orange wines can possess a grippy and textured mouthfeel due to the extended skin contact during fermentation.

Flavour profile. Orange wines boast a variety of flavours and aromas, including dried fruits, floral notes, honey, tea, and subtle nuttiness. The profile is often complex, making it an exciting choice for adventurous wine enthusiasts.

Versatility. While orange wine is gaining popularity, it remains relatively unexplored compared to red and white wines. However, its versatility allows it to pair well with various dishes, from rich, savoury stews to lighter seafood fare.

Minimal Intervention. Producers of orange wine often embrace natural winemaking practices, including minimal intervention and the avoidance of additives. This approach aims to let the grapes' natural expression shine through in the final product.

Should you try orange wine?

Orange wine's rise in popularity can be attributed to its exciting aesthetic appeal, unique taste profile and the allure of exploring ancient winemaking traditions. For those seeking something different from the usual white, red or even rosé wine experience, orange wine presents an opportunity to expand their palate and discover new sensory delights.

What food should you pair with orange wine?

Orange wine is intense and complex, and benefits from dishes with depth and richness. For example, orange wine pairs wonderfully with roasted chicken or duck, as the wine's earthy undertones and hints of tannin complement the meat's flavours and textures. Its floral and citrus notes are accentuated by seafood dishes like grilled shrimp or scallops. Its slightly nutty and oxidative character marries well with aged cheeses, charcuterie, and vegetarian dishes such as roasted vegetables or risotto. The versatility of orange wine allows for endless food pairing possibilities, making it a terrific choice for adventurous wine lovers.

What should you consider when buying orange wine?

When purchasing an orange wine, it's essential to consider the winemaker's style, grape variety, and ageing process, as these factors greatly influence the final product. As with any wine, personal preference plays a significant role, and it's worth experimenting with different orange wines to find the one that resonates most with your taste buds. Why not try our fabulous Amfòra, the perfect introduction to the world of orange wine?

Where can you buy orange wine?

You can find the odd bottle in your local supermarket as orange wine grows in popularity, but why not shop local instead? Specialist wine shops like the Wee Vinoteca have experts who can answer any questions and help you with your choice based on your personal preferences. What could be easier than that? Orange wine has secured a well-deserved place in the spotlight of contemporary wine culture, so when you're next exploring wine options, consider looking at the orange end of the spectrum; you may just find your new favourite indulgence! And if you want to broaden your palate even further but aren't sure where to start, why not sign up for a Wee Vinoteca wine subscription? Uncover hidden gems personalised to your tastes, with each case enhancing your wine journey and helping you discover new favourites.

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