Orange wines, sometimes known as skin contact wines, are characterful and funky with deep orange hues and intense complex flavours. They're made from white grapes that are macerated with the skins and seeds left on.
Why is it orange you wonder? Essentially, they're white wines that are made like reds.
The grapes are left in contact with the skins in cement or ceramic containers for days, weeks or months. These container are called amphoras or more correctly, kvevris (kvevri for singular).
The technique for making skin contact wines is difficult to master and there are very few specialists in the world. It's the skin contact that brings out the beautiful orange and amber colours.
This process also increases the tannins in the wine and gives it a higher natural acidity. The antioxidants in the tannins act as 100% natural preservative that help improve the durability of the wine.
Browse our selection of the best orange wines from around the world.
How Is Orange Wine Made?
While it's not a perquisite of the style, orange wines are usually made with no additives, not even yeast, and minimal intervention. They are often oxidised in open-top vessels (amphoras) which are only sealed after fermentation.
It's this wild yeast fermentation and oxidation that creates thrilling and unique flavours. Saša Radikon, one of the most prominent orange wine makers, talks about the natural process, "For me, a proper orange wine must be fermented with wild yeasts and without temperature control, otherwise you’re muting the very characteristics you want to extract from the skins."
What Does Orange Wine Taste Like?
The Wine Folly describes the taste of orange wines perfectly as "big, dry, and even have tannins like a red wine with a sourness in their taste similar to fruit beer." They're chilled and refreshing, yet bold and intense.
Beyond that, orange wines typically have aromas of jackfruit, hazelnut, apple, juniper, sourdough and orange rind. Yet each orange wine tells its own story: give one a try and you'll see what we mean!
What's The History Of Orange Wine?
Contrary to the notion that orange wine is just the latest fad in wine, orange wine has actually been around for hundreds of years, mostly commonly produced in Northeastern Italy and Slovenia. In the 1970s as wine production became increasingly industrialised, wild yeasts were nearly completely forgotten and replaced with stainless steel and yeast additives.