Exploring the unique world of Orange Wines

Despite their name, orange wines have nothing to do with citrus fruits. Instead, they are a fascinating category of wine that has been gaining popularity for their distinctive colour and complex flavours. In this blog post, we will explore the intriguing world of orange wines, their origins, production methods, and why wine enthusiasts are increasingly drawn to this unique style.

Understanding Orange Wines:

Orange wine is essentially a white wine made like a red wine. While white wines are typically produced by quickly pressing the juice away from the grape skins, orange wines involve extended skin contact during fermentation. This process imparts a rich amber or orange hue to the final product, thus the name.

Origin and History:

Although “orange wine” may seem modern, the production method has ancient roots. Historically, this winemaking style can be traced back to Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region. Georgian winemakers would bury clay vessels called qvevris underground, allowing white grapes to ferment with their skins. This method resulted in amber-coloured wines with distinct characteristics.

Production Process:

The key to orange wine lies in maceration, where grape skins are left in contact with the juice for an extended period. Depending on the winemaker’s preference, this can range from a few days to several months. The extended skin contact extracts tannins, flavours, and compounds that give orange wines their unique profile.

Additionally, many orange wines undergo fermentation and ageing in clay vessels or amphorae, harkening back to traditional methods. This contributes to the wine’s distinct flavour and aligns with a growing trend in the wine industry towards more sustainable and natural practices.

Flavour Profile:

Orange wines are renowned for their complexity and bold flavours. The extended skin contact imparts various characteristics, including tannins, more commonly associated with red wines. This results in a wine that can be robust, with a tannic structure that adds depth.

The flavour profile of orange wines is diverse, encompassing notes of dried fruits, apricots, nuts, and sometimes a hint of spice. The tannins and structure provide a unique mouthfeel that distinguishes orange wines from their white and red counterparts.

Food Pairing:

Due to their robust nature, orange wines pair exceptionally well with various dishes. The tannins and structure make them suitable for heartier food, such as grilled meats, stews, and rich cheeses. On the other hand, the acidity and fruitiness also complement lighter dishes like seafood and vegetarian cuisine, making orange wines incredibly versatile at the dining table.

Orange wines

Popularity and Trends:

While orange wines have been a niche category for many years, they have recently experienced a surge in popularity. Wine enthusiasts are increasingly seeking out these unique bottles, drawn to the unconventional colour and the intriguing flavours that result from the extended skin contact.

Winemakers worldwide, not just in Georgia, have embraced the orange wine trend, experimenting with different grape varieties and production techniques. This has led to a diverse array of orange wines on the market, each expressing the terroir of its region distinctly.

In conclusion, orange wines offer a captivating journey for wine enthusiasts looking to explore beyond the traditional red and white categories. From their ancient origins in Georgia to modern winemaking practices around the globe, orange wines continue to captivate palates with their bold flavours and unique characteristics. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a curious novice, tasting an orange wine provides a sensory adventure that is both historical and contemporary, making it a worthy addition to any wine lover’s exploration.

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Photo Credit: Tanners Wines

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