Can you imagine aromas of jackfruit, hazelnut, Brazil nut, bruised apple, wood varnish, linseed oil, juniper, sourdough, and dried orange captured in a beautiful glass of wine?
They’re big, dry, and even have tannin on the palate, like a red wine with a sourness similar to fruit beer. They’re orange, sexy and Instagram friendly. They’re so intense that you should make sure you’re sitting down when you first taste them. Yes, they are orange wines!
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What is orange wine?
Orange wines, also known as skin contact wines, are a type of white wine produced by letting the juice remain in contact with the grape skins for an extended period of time. The deep colour of orange wine comes from lignin in grape seeds. Orange wines pair well with vibrant dishes like spicy Asian curries, complex Moroccan tagines, or Korean dishes with fermented kimchi due to their bold flavour profile.
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Where does it come from?
Orange wines are produced all over the world, but the Caucasus country of Georgia is thought to be the original source of this style. Orange wines are made in large Qvevri, large subterranean vessels, which are traditionally sealed with beeswax. Orange wines can also be found in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northern Italy and in Slovenia.
Orange wines are made from white grape varieties. Italian orange wines are often made from Sauvignon Vert (Friulano), Ribolla Gialla, and Pinot Grigio, while in Georgia, the local Rkatsiteli grape is used for producing this wine. The Vin Jaune, from the Jura region of France, is made with the local Savagnin grape.
If you wonder where you can find orange wines and which one you should buy, here is our top selection list. Enjoy!
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This cuvee is produced from Rkatsiteli and Chinuri grapes and is notable for its naturally occurring high alcohol level. Scientists believe that this is due to a rare yeast called Saccharomyces Oviformis, which is only found in a few wineries around the world. This zesty white wine is fermented and aged in Qvevri for 6 months to produce a well-balanced, harmonious wine with plenty of character. The color is a striking deep amber, with hints of green apple, pear, and citrus, as well as undertones of cedar, dried herbs, and bay leaf. A great wine to age for a few years or to drink now with roasted chicken, grilled fish, or creamy pasta dishes.
Image credit: Unsplash/Daniel Vogel
Bela is made from Malvazija, Welschriesling, Rebula, and Vipavec grapes grown in the valley’s marl and sandstone soils. The fruit is harvested by hand, with 70% fermented in oak barrels and the rest in concrete tanks. The young wine is then aged in oak barrels for 11 months before being bottled without filtering or fining to retain the wine’s full natural character. The result is an intense white wine with aromas of ripe tropical and stone fruits, a rich texture and medium body, and a lively streak of acidity. The manufacturer works in harmony with nature and practices both organic and biodynamic viticulture. He primarily uses local grape varieties which are well-suited to this region with its proximity to the sea and the mountains.
Image credit: Unsplash/Henry Fournier
This great orange wine is named “Ines in White” after winemaker Mladen Rožanić’s wife. It is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Riesling, Glera, Friulano, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes which are grown according to organic and biodynamic principles. The nose is filled with enticing aromas of honeycomb, hay, and white pepper, as well as nutty hints reminiscent of sherry wines’ oxidative character. These flavours carry over to the palate, where they are joined by dried apricot, quince, and caramel. This wine pairs well with chicken stew, calamari, and even octopus dishes due to its full body, gentle tannins, and intense flavour profile.
Image credit: Unsplash/Krisztina Papp
Zibibbo is the Sicilian term for Muscat of Alexandria, and this fine example comes from prime vineyards in Marsala. The must is vinified on the skins with wild yeasts to create a richly flavored, textured orange wine with a lot of complexity. Fermentation takes place in “giare,” or large amphorae, which helps to preserve the grape variety’s natural character. The young wine is then aged in amphorae for six months before being bottled. There are enticing notes of toasted almonds, honeysuckle, and tropical fruits on the nose. The palate has a rich texture and medium body, with intense stone fruit flavors and hints of sweet spice and candy.
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