orange wine glass
Grapes & Wines Wine Learning

What is orange wine?

Orange wine is not just wine from Orange, NSW. Although the name has them both confused (and even a little annoyed up in Orange). Orange wine is also not wine made from oranges. So, what is orange wine?

Orange wine is actually a type of white wine and is made from white wine grapes which skins and seeds are left on the juice during fermentation to create the warm colour and rich flavours.

Essentially: white wine grapes treated like red wine grapes.

White wine is typically made by pressing the white wine grapes to get the juice out, then removing the skins and seeds etc right away before allowing the juice to ferment.

But with orange wine, winemakers leave the skins on anywhere from a few days to over a year.

Orange wine is typically more naturally made with little additives or preservatives and is often fermented in something ceramic or cement, unlike a steel vat or oak barrels that a lot of white wines are fermented in. Fancy.

So if orange wine isn’t from Orange, NSW – where does it come from?

Orange wine is actually one of the oldest wine types in the world, dating back a sweet 5000 years to Georgia (the country, not the state) – the oldest, uninterrupted wine growing and making region in the world. Home to probably the most natural wine areas with grapes handpicked and gathered in wooden backpacks. Horses tow heavier parts through the vineyard and wines were fermented in large vats covered with stones and sealed with beeswax.

But, orange wine is not always natural wine. It’s actually a category/technique. One which has since been adopted and popularised by the likes of Italy, Slovenia, the USA, our very own winemakers down under (maybe Orange, NSW but haven’t heard of any?) and France just to name a few.

What do they taste like?

Orange wines vary in taste because of the different ways they are produced and times the grapes are left on. They can be drier, lighter orange to the big, bold and more tannic orange wines.

Flavours go from fleshy tropical fruits to nuts and dried orange. Yum.

Alright, enough on the history and that. You want to know what orange wine to drink and where to get it!

Here are some that I’ve tried this year:

Blind Unicorn Pet Nat, NV, Australia – skin contact sparkling made using five different grapes including chenin blanc

Vini Di Giovanni, Vermentuzzo, 2016, Italy – Vermentino from Umbria. Smells like apricots, pairs well with popcorn!

Cantina Giardino, Anforo, 2017, Italy – Coda di Volpe Fiano Greco from Campania. Lovely blend that’s more natural style.

Ari’s Whitish, 2018, Australia – fun, summery number, macerated for 1 month.

Brave New Wine Ambergris, 2018, Australia – Pinot Gris/Grigio, a rosy, pinkier number.

Chkhaveri Amber Dry, 2015, Georgia – special one from Georgia, Zurab.

I’ve popped in some links there and you can pick most of these up from the good folk at P&V in Newtown (you can also order online). The Vermentuzzo and Anforo I had at Poly in Surry Hills but fairly sure you could order from P&V or DRNKS.

Want to know how rose wine is made instead? Read the blog here.

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