What is Orange Wine? And What Kind You Should Be Drinking

orange wine

Orange wine has grown in popularity recently, but did you know that in the United States it can never be sold with its name on the label? Why is this, you ask? Even though the wine is made with white grapes that are fermented while the skin is intact, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau that oversees U.S. wine labeling decided to call it orange wine. No, it is not made from oranges … confusing right?!?

So, if you are looking to purchase this particular wine, you will need to look for specific terms:

  • Skin intact
  • Amber wine
  • Skin fermented white wine
  • Curtimenta (Portuguese)
  • Vino bianco macareto (Italian)

A big reason the wine is called orange is simply due to its color. It has an amber/orange hue. The reason this color appears in the wine is because the prolonged contact with the grape skin during the fermentation process.

Here are some of the most popular kinds of orange wine on the market today.

2017 Heinrich Graue Freyheit ($51)

If you are looking for a fruity wine, this is the one for you! This wine contains no additives and is produced with such skill it will make your mouth water. It is wild fermented with two weeks of skin contact and then aged for 17 months in large oak barrels.

2018 Manon High Paradise ($40)

This wine’s vines are farmed biodynamically in Australia’s Adelaide hills. It is a lovely blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Garganega, with a mixture of skin fermentation and directly pressed grapes. The end result is floral aromatic genius. We highly recommend that the older you can go with this brand of wine, the better.

2018 Pepe Mendoza Casa Agricola Pureza Muscat ($30)

Produced in the South of Spain, this wine is purely refreshing. What makes this wine amazing is the altitude that it is produced in, which helps maintain the acidity of the grapes. It has the beautiful scent of rosemary and mint, but trust us when we say, it is a subtle wine that will leave a lasting impression.

2019 Domaine des Mathouans Mine de Rien ($27)

Made in France, the carbonation factor will have you craving more. When it comes to texture, it is almost like a smoothie. It is one of those wines that you reach for when you just want to drink and be happy.

2019 Baia’s Wine Tsitska-Tsolikouri-Krakhuna ($28)

Produced by Baia and her sister Gvantsa Abduladze on their family estate in Imereti, their grapes go through a long fermentation process in clay qvevri. This wine is very delicate, and you will taste hints of citrus and a bit of kiwi. It is a wonderful way to delve into western Georgia’s qvevri tradition.

NV Croci Campedello Bianco Frizzante ($24)

Partly fermented in tanks, this wine is then bottled to help it develop those amazing bubbles. It comes off very aromatic, with notes of candied fruit and dried flower perfumes. Produced in the Colli Piacentini sub-region, it goes along perfect with their pork-heavy cuisine.

2015 Paraschos Amphoreus Ribolla Gialla ($56)

Produced on the border of Slovenia, this wine is made with long skin contact. It has a strong fruity flavor with hints of ripe yellow plums. You will also notice that it has a touch of honey and herbs added to the flavor which makes it truly unique. This is a wine you can choose to drink now, or let it get even better by leaving it in your wine cellar for a few years.  

When it comes to orange wines there are many out there that are truly amazing. Give them a try and see which one resonates with you.

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