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orange wine

What Is Orange Wine?

Orange wine is in vogue and has proved to be more than a trend; the unusual wine style is here to stay, and if you haven’t tried it yet, there’s no better time to do so than now. The category is now incredibly varied!

Here’s all you need to know about orange wine, including what orange wine is, what it tastes like, and how to serve it. Needless to say, orange wine is a fine wine, and it will look and taste better when served in your beautiful collection of Grassl wine glasses.

Orange wine is also known as skin-contact wine, but it’s not alone. Red wine and—to some extent—rosé also benefit from extended maceration, in which the grape juice is infused with color, flavor, and texture from the grape skins. In summary, orange wine is a type of white wine made by borrowing plays from the red winemaking playbook.

There’s a good chance the very first white wines in history were, in fact, orange since separating the grape juice from the skins is more complicated than fermenting them together. However, the modern orange wine movement started in Slovenia and Northern Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia, where the style is typical. 

Clean and crisp white wine replaced orange wine in the 20th century, but it resurfaced as a rarity and novelty in the last 90s and 00s. Today, winemakers produce orange wine worldwide, and the style has gained a significant following.

How Is Orange Wine Made?

In many ways, orange wine is the opposite of rosé. To make rosé, you vinify red grapes as if making white wine. To make orange wine, you process white grapes using the red winemaking method. Like all other wine styles, orange wine starts at the vineyard, and the wine’s quality is intertwined with the quality of the fruit. You can’t make great wine with lousy grapes.

The white grapes are picked and taken to the cellar, where they’re crushed and destemmed—either fully or partially. They then go into a fermentation vat. When making white wine, the grape skins are discarded at this point, but not for orange wine. The fruit and skins mingle for hours, days, or even weeks. In the process, the juice gets color and textural compounds from the pale skins.

The producer doesn’t only macerate the grapes and skins together but ferments them in the same vat, depending on the style. Eventually, the newly created wine is filtered and bottled or sent to the next step of the process, whether it be clarifying, filtering, oak aging, or something else. At this point, the wine is not white anymore but orange in color.

What Does Orange Wine Taste Like?

Orange wine might display scents not dissimilar to what you’d find in white wine: white fruit, citrus, flowers, herbs, and hints of spices—depending on the process and the grapes used. However, the wine’s main attraction is not on the nose but on the palate. Orange wine has subtle but noticeable tannins from the white grape skins, which makes them rich and full-bodied.

Interestingly enough, orange wine producers purposely allow the wine to oxidize a bit more during the maceration process. This practice gives the wine a darker hue and an extra set of aromas that may include saffron, toasted nuts, and sherry-like scents. Not all orange wines are oxidized, but it’s becoming a trend. Actually, orange wine can be as fresh and fruity as any white wine, so knowing the producer and its winemaking philosophy pays off in the end.

How to Serve Orange Wine

What Is the Best Temperature for Serving Orange Wine?

Treat orange wine like white wine. The ideal serving temperature varies between 4°C and 10°C (39°F-50°F), depending on its robustness and perceived weight.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Orange Wine?

Serve orange wine in white wine glasses, like the Grassl Mineralité and Liberté. Since orange wine can be pretty concentrated, decanting it will ensure it releases all its exciting aromatic compounds. 

How Do You Pair Orange Wine With Food?

At the table, orange wine is versatile. It’s a good partner for fish, seafood, and white meat. However, given the wine’s complexity, it will truly shine when served with equally complex foods, like curries, hot pots, and stir-fries. Heavily seasoned roasted poultry, like jerk chicken and spicy wings, are also a great match.

Add orange wine to your wine rotation, and share what you know about it with friends and family. Orange wine is not going anywhere, and it’s better than ever.

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