You are likely familiar with red, white, and rose wines but did you know there is an orange wine as well? It is a bit of a misnomer though since it is not actually made from oranges and it does not refer to a mimosa either, which is a blend of orange juice and sparkling wine. Orange wine is entirely different. It is a type of white wine that is made by leaving grape seeds and skins in the mix, creating a drink that is deep orange in colour.
What is it?
First, you take mashed up white grapes and put them in a large cement or ceramic vessel. The grapes are then set to ferment for four days or even more than a year with the seeds and skins still attached. It is an entirely natural process that uses little to no additive – not even yeast sometimes. It tends to taste different from standard white wines because of this process with a sour taste and nutty flavour from oxidation. The term orange wine was first coined by David Harvey, a British wine importer. He initially described it as a non-interventionist style of white winemaking. There is also an Italian Pinot Grigio made this way called Ramato, which means auburn in Italian.
What does it taste like?
There are several notes orange wine can take on, but it is typically described as bold and robust. You will notice aromas of sweet jackfruit, hazelnut, Brazil nut, dried orange rind, bruised apple, juniper, sourdough, wood varnish, and linseed oil. It will taste big, dry, have tannin similar to red wine, and sour like a fruit beer. It can taste surprisingly intense when you first try it.
Orange wine is bold and, so, it pairs well with equally bold dishes like Moroccan, Ethiopian, Korean, Japanese, and Indian cuisine. Try it with fermented kimchi (bibimbap), fermented soybeans (Natto), Injera (a sponge-like pancake), or curries. There are a variety of meats orange wine pairs well with from fish to beef because of its tannin, bitterness, and nutty tartness.
Where is it from?
The orange winemaking process is quite old, dating back 5,000 years in modern-day Georgia (the country). Back then, orange wine was fermented in large vessels called Qvevri, closed with stones, and sealed with beeswax. The ancient process resurfaced about two decades ago and had become modernized since. It is still quite rare to come across orange wine, but several countries have grown more interest in this style.
Most orange wine is found in northeastern Italy along its border with Slovenia, which also produces it as well. There are also orange winemakers in Georgia, Austria, France, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.
Stop by Seven Degrees to try an orange wine from Canada. We have an Amber Pinot Gris from Sperling Vineyards made in Okanagan Valley. It is certified organic with no added sulphites. You will notice aromas of earl gray tea, stone fruits, and jasmine with a fresh, dry finish. Our wine connoisseurs can help narrow down our vast selection of wine, beer, and spirits to suit your particular palate.