The term Orange wine, or amber wine, is an old but newly awakened phenomenon in the wine world, in this day associated with small-scale winemaking and the natural wine movement. The wine is produced from green grapes but the technology is reminiscent of red wine production.
As said, green grape varieties are used, often those local to the region. Thanks to contact with the grape skins and seeds, the wine becomes darker than "ordinary" white wines and depending on maturity and development, the colour varies from yellow to dark orange. Traditionally the fermentation usually takes place in some form of clay vessel that is either placed in a cellar or buried in the ground to keep the temperature down. The style also includes a long fermentation time - from a week up to years. Nowadays, often the “ordinary” equipment in the vinery is used, stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Swedish Orange wines have been described as robust and bold.
On the palate, they’re big, dry, and even have tannin like a red wine with also a sourness.
“Just like great Barolo, truly great orange wines, have tension, lift and power. In a world full of blandness and uniformity, they are less the emperor’s new clothes, more the adventurer’s new playground.” - Simon Wolf
Orange wine is also known as:
- skin contact white wine
- skin yeast white wine
- amber wine
What is Orange wine?
This type of wine is made from white grapes where the skin of the grapes has not been removed during the fermentation process. Normally in white wine production, the skins are quickly removed after the grapes have been crushed. The skins contain tannins, color pigments and phenols that are not normally desired for white wines. This is in contrast to red wines where the skins are an important part of taste, color and texture.
White wine can thus be made from both white and red grapes but then without the skins. If you keep the skins from white grapes during the fermentation process, you get orange wine. It is worth pointing out that oranges have nothing to do with the production of orange wine.
How does Orange wine taste?
This wine have been described as having a bold, tart, fruity flavor with a drier mouthfeel. The alcohol content is often higher than white wines.
National Orange Wine Day is celebrated annually on October 6.