Common in recent times, this term usually puzzles the average consumer - what is this "orange" wine, is it made from oranges, how come it has an orange colour, does it have anything to do with blue wine and what is so special about it?More
Common in recent times, this term usually puzzles the average consumer - what is this "orange" wine, is it made from oranges, how come it has an orange colour, does it have anything to do with blue wine and what is so special about it? In fact, orange wine is as old as wine production in general, and is actually the return, the renaissance of an ancient traditional production practice. It has nothing to do with blue wine, which is a product of artificially achieved colour by addition of indigo pigments, while the orange colour of the orange wine is very natural due to the fermentation process. At Seewines we can answer all the questions related to this type of wine and raise for you the curtain covering this beautiful and different corner of the vast wine world. See our personal selection of orange wines and enjoy its diversity.
How is orange wine made?
Simply put, orange wine is the opposite of Rosè wine - it is made from white grapes, but by the method of red wine production. Confusing? Not quite - the grapes just do not go through the press immediately after harvest but remain in contact with the skins for a certain period of time. It is this contact that colours the wine and gives it a dark, saturated, and characteristic orange colour. And not just colour actually. This prolonged contact extracts and saturates the wine additionally with tannins and aromatic substances and gives it a structure and body almost like red wine. For the unaccustomed consumer, the first touch of orange wine can be a bit strange and unusual - the aroma is sweet, honey like, but the taste is not sweet at all; on top of all there is a pronounced tannin structure and a dense body with a long aftertaste. It is this mystery of orange wine that attracts the most - the mismatch of aroma and taste makes it different and intriguing in its own way.
Which varieties are used for orange wine?
Of course, the main answer to this question is white varieties. Otherwise we will just get red wine. Orange wine is revered in Georgia, where this type of wine has been produced (and mastered) since the dawn of time - or since wine has been produced for the last 8,000 years. Georgians use their local varieties, chinuri and kisi are among the favourites and world famous are producers like Iago, Gotsa and many more. In Italy, in the region of Friuli, this tradition was revived in the 80s of the last century, with the varieties used being Ribolla Giala, Pinot Grigio and others (check out producers like Gravner, Damjan). Modern oenologists are constantly expanding the varieties for orange wine, experimenting with new and new additions, including Riesling.
Yellow or orange wine - is there any difference?
Yes, there is a difference, of course. Yellow wine or vin jaune is produced in Jura, France. Its technology is different from that of orange wine. The grapes for vin jaune are of the Savagnin variety and are usually harvested in late October (late harvest), fermented slowly to 14-15 degrees alcohol and then aged in small old oak barrels for years, during which time it evaporates naturally. However, since it is not topped up, an air gap is created in the barrels and over the wine a yeast cover is formed, which protects the wine from oxidation - but not completely. This is the reason - the partial oxidation - that the wine acquires its characteristic yellow colour and walnut aromas, as it matures in this state for a period of six years and three months, the time that must elapse between harvest and bottling.
How to consume orange wine?
Due to its specificity, orange wine should not be cooled too much. It is best for its serving temperature to be like a light red wine - about 13-14 degrees. Its complex structure and strong body allow experiments with different foods, but perhaps it is best combined with spicy and rich dishes. This could be one of the reasons why it is very suitable for the regions of the Caucasus, the Balkans and Asia Minor, where food is traditionally served as mezze - in platters at the same time to share. Experimenting is the best way to find out your own preferences. And one day, when you feel and perceive the wild beauty of orange wine, you will also be able to enjoy it simply on its own.
Which orange wine to choose?
Orange wine needs to be given a chance. You may not love it right away, but you can certainly build a gradual and deep relationship with it that will enrich you with each sip. If you are not yet familiar with its taste, trust our sommelier consultants - they will direct you to wines that are easier to perceive. These are usually Georgian wines, and although even a wide variety exists among them, start your acquaintance with chinuri or kisi in qvevri. Build and expand your taste with perseverance and desire and you will discover for yourself the magic of this new and diverse wine world.