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
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 also known as
- skin contact white wine
- skin yeast white wine
- amber wine
It is worth pointing out that oranges have nothing to do with the production of this 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. It is often described as rough and oxidative taste. Orange wine has a slightly special taste because it has been exposed to oxygen for a long time. It is said that the wine has oxidative tones and has aromas such as ripe apples, fresh nuts or dried fruit. The wine becomes completely dry and for natural reasons lacks undertones.
As the wine ferments together with the skins, the tannins from them are leached out and the wine becomes unusually rough to be white. The roughness means that a whole new dimension opens up in combination with food and orange wines have therefore become very popular in modern cuisine.
How is Orange Wine being produced?
This wine is a new-old element in the wine world that today is associated with small-scale wine-making and the natural wine movement. The wine is made from green grapes, but the technology is reminiscent of red wine production.
To make the wine, they use green grape varieties that are often local to the region. Thanks to long contact with the grape skins, the wine becomes darker than "ordinary" white wines and depending on maturity and development, the color varies from dark yellow to orange.
The fermentation usually takes place in some form of clay vessel that is either in a cellar or buried in the ground to keep the temperature down.
The winemaker often uses natural yeast and bottles the wine without filtration. The style also includes a long fermentation time - from a week up to a whole year.
The winemaker often uses natural yeast and bottles the wine without filtration.
Historically, Georgia is mainly associated with orange wine. Here they started making wine 8,000 years ago and probably the original wine was reminiscent of today's orange variety.
The majority of the country's orange wines come from the Kakheti and Imereti regions. The grape used is the local rkatsiteli and the production takes place in large clay vessels, qvevri.
However, the new introduction took place in northeastern Italy in the late 1990s: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, small-scale growers have achieved great success with orange wines on the grapes ribolla gialla, sauvignon vert and pinot gris.
This wine is also associated with Slovenia, especially the Goriška Brda region, but is produced by small wine producers around the world. France is no exception. In addition to today's "modern" orange wines, Jura has long produced the oxidative Vin Jaune from the savagnin grape.
National Orange Wine Day is celebrated annually on October 6.