Browse your local wine shop and you’ll probably be greeted by a row of orange coloured wines….but what are these amber-hued beauties?
As one of the oldest styles of wine in the world, a recent renaissance of ‘orange’ wines has been led by pioneering wine makers and hipster wine drinkers. These wines are usually cocooned within the natural wine category, tending towards a lower alcohol style, using minimal intervention and natural yeast, whilst allowing some oxidation to occur.
To be honest, some find orange wines a bit marmite, if you’re feeling adventurous, we are here to help you explore this unique wine style and discover why orange could be the next big thing since rosé for your spring and summer glasses.
How and where is orange wine made?
It’s all about the colour, (note: no oranges are used in its production). Orange wine is essentially a white wine ‘made like a red wine’ where the grape juice stays in contact with the grape skins during fermentation, (for white wine, the skins are usually removed immediately after crushing the grapes). The result of this longer period on the skins is an orange or amber-coloured wine that is infused with more texture, grippy tannins and aromatic intensity than your everyday white wine or rosé.
Even though orange wines date back more than 5,000 years to the ancient wine cellars of Georgia, the name was only coined in 2004 by a British wine importer, primarily to communicate how different orange wine is from its bedfellows.
Today you can find these beautifully coloured bottles created from vineyards across the world. Usually vegan friendly, these unique wines are produced by experimental wine makers – making them all the more exciting.
Let’s not confuse orange wines with rosé – rosé is usually made with black grapes and the resulting wine has a very different weight and complexity- being usually lighter than orange wine.
It’s all down to taste
On the palate orange wines can be challenging to some and exciting to others.
Robustly showing off tannins and hints of oxidation from the extended time spent on the skins and stalks, the wine can have sour and nutty yeast flavours whilst expressing the characteristics of the grape variety used. All of this extra va-va-voom makes orange wines a perfect pairing with food. A bold wine, it’s best served chilled with equally bold dishes – from curry to Korean cuisine, roast chicken to Moroccan tagines.
Orange wine is for curious drinkers. It is not for everyone. Give one of our local orange wines a try and you may surprise yourself, at the least you’ll create debate about the oldest style of wine in the world at your next picnic.