Orange wine

The famous orange wine aging with skin contact.

Orange wine is made by keeping white grape must in contact with the grape skins just like when making red wine. This technique provides the characteristic golden, amber or orange colour which is where “orange wines” get their name. The age-old methodologies used mean many orange wines are closely associated with natural wines, although not all of them are so by definition. These methods result in wine with very distinctive/unique characteristics. Orange wines claim to have more body than any white wine, with oxidative notes and a bitter finish. This type of wine is, without doubt, here to stay given its unique characteristics and high quality. We really think you should try them.

Orange wines are undoubtedly special wines. And many of these unique wines are natural wines, which makes them even more special. There are several factors that make it what it is:

Orange wine production.

When orange wines are vinified, with the grape skins in contact with the must, this must spontaneously ferments thanks to the yeasts already present on the grape, so fermenting these wines with native/indigenous/natural yeasts is more straightforward. As well as that, this must maceration with the skins and seeds gives the wine a light tannin. Tannins act as natural protection against oxidation or microbial attack, making it possible to make wine with minimal or no use of oenological additives like sulphur.

Maceration for orange wines varies from producer to producer: There are wines that macerate for a few days and some for months. The longer the maceration, the more colour, body and tannins in the wine.

Any type of container can be used. There are orange wines vinified in stainless steel tanks, others in barrels or foudres or even in jars or vats. These last two are the most common for this type of wine.

Orange wine history.

The term orange wine is said to have been coined in 2004 by David A. Harvey, a British wine importer, to differentiate this special group of amber-orange wines. However, the term may also have come from Georgia, where for many years they have been making white wines macerated with skins in large vats buried in the ground, which they call “amber wines” (Karvisperi ghvino). Georgians have been making wine this way for hundreds of years, possibly for as long as 8,000 years, but it was not until recently that Italians and Slovenes became fascinated with them and began to import large vats (Kvevris) from Georgia to try and copy. That was when this ancient winemaking method began to spread throughout the world.

Leading producers of orange wines.

Some of the leading producers are Bàrbara Forés in Terra Alta with their Abrisa’t, made with the area’s recovered old Garnacha Blanca vines, then there are Aldo Viola’s Sicilian wines, the Sauvignon Blanc by Sebastien Riffault at the Celler Credo in the AOC Sancerrelos del Penedès and the wines made by Casa Balaguer in the DO Alicante.

Orange wine tasting and pairing.

When it comes to tasting, orange wines are characterised by being robust and somewhat astringent, dry (with no residual sugars) and somewhat bitter. On the nose they sometimes reveal pungent aromas of dried fruits, apple sauce and dried oranges.

They pair perfectly with exotic dishes, whether it is Korean, Moroccan or Japanese cuisine. And because they are so robust, they go perfectly with all kinds of fatty fish and red meat.

Orange wines are very unusual, brave wines, made through the revival of ancient techniques. We are sure you will love them.

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