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What really is orange wine?

Find everything you need to know about orange wine

· Wine Culture

The trend of “orange wine” has been prevalent recently, from the wine bars in Paris to Shanghai and anywhere worldwide. What’s the uniqueness of it?

First off, orange as a color of wine was originated in Caucasus 5,000 years ago. At that time, winemakers used a vast vessel called “Qvevri” in which grapes were to be fermented and aged. These vessels would be sealed with beeswax and buried in the ground. The wine would appear orange during the fermentation.

An ancient Qvevri in Georgia 

Nowadays, the term “orange wine” stands for a fairly new type of wine which is completely different from the above. In 2004, a British wine merchant David Harvey has proposed the term of “orange wine” for a specific type of wine and the concept was officially born.

What exactly is orange wine? How is it made? How does it taste like? Let’s figure out! 

How is orange wine made?

Orange wine is a white wine made in a similar method as red wine. First off, the white grapes are pressed and directly put into a big vessel, with the skins in contact with the juice, giving an orange look to the wine.  

Contrary to traditional white wines, orange wine is fermented with skins on

Orange wine is also called "skin-contact" wine. According to the different wine styles sought by winemakers, the white juice is left in contact with the skins during a period that ranges from a few days to several months.

The longer the skin contact, the deeper the color

Orange wine is often linked to natural winemaking process. It hardly uses any additives nor artificial yeasts. Instead, it is fermented by wild yeasts that are attached to the grape skins, which helps to maintain the purity of wine flavors.

How does orange wine taste like?

Orange wine is dry and complex in flavors, normally with aromas of dried orange peel, durian, hazelnuts, or tree sap. Also, nutty and honey aromas would start to appear during the aging process. 

As it has been fermented with skins on, the structure of orange wine is more similar to the one of a red wine rather than a white one. You could feel light tannins in your mouth when tasting it and it is high in acidity. It is usually a full-bodied wine and is quite intense in flavor. 

What types of food can be paired with orange wine?

Orange wine is usually bold on the palate and can be paired with equally bold food, such as curries, Yunnan cuisine or even boiled lamb.

It is also a reasonable choice to pair with raw beef or fish. Bolder orange wines are also great partners to spicy food. 

What is the best temperature to serve orange wine?

The service temperature is usually related to the length of skin-contact time. Normally, the longer the time of skin-contact, the fuller-bodied it will be. For orange wines shorter skin-contact time, it is suggested to be slightly chilled and served around 10-12 degrees.

While for those which have been fermented for a longer time with skins, around 14 degrees would be best. Some orange wines may also need to be decanted in order to help present their complex flavors more profoundly.

It's now time to visit the nearest wine bar to enjoy a glass of enchanting orange wine with your friends!

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