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What is Orange Wine?

Orange wine. Slovak wine in Denmark

Hello Wine Lovers, in this article we will explain in detail what Orange Wine is. What is its origin, when is the best time to enjoy it, and with what foods is it recommended to pair it.

Let us begin then with the question that many ask themselves but do not dare to ask.

What is Orange Wine? 

Let’s first clarify that oranges have absolutely nothing to do with it. Orange or Amber wine, as they call it in Georgia, is an ancient technique in which the same grapes are used to make white wine and orange wine. So what is the difference?
White wine is made either with red or white grapes. The grapes are pressed and their skins are removed immediately. Because the grape skins do not “participate” in the fermentation, their color does not matter and the wine acquires a neutral, green to slightly yellow hue. Orange wine is made with white grapes. The white wine grapes are allowed to macerate in their skins for days, weeks or months, until the skin pigments release their color and the wine acquires an amber, orange color. The wine is infused with tannins from the skin, which add dryness, bitterness, and complexity. 

This practice has been done for thousands of years, although orange wine and its consumption have become popular in the last two decades. Knowing where they come from gives us one more reason to taste it, right? So keep reading!

Origins of Orange Wine

The practice has a long history, dating back hundreds of years in Slovenia and thousands of years in the Eastern European wine producing country of Georgia. Long ago, that is, 5,000 years back in Caucasus (the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), the fermentation of wines was done in large subterranean vessels called Qvevri.

A qvevri is a Georgian vessel which is totally buried in the ground and is used for the fermentation and storage of wine. Initially, it was closed with stones and the sealing was done with beeswax. By being immersed in the earth the vessels ensure that the wine’s temperature remains stable and it also protects the wine from oxidation. Grapes, including their skin, are left inside for up to a year to rest and macerate without any intervention. This means that qvevri wines are made in the most natural way possible and in the same way that has been successful for thousands of years.

The practice was repopularized by Italian and Slovenian winemakers, after visiting Georgia and importing qveris. 

Flavour aside, orange wine has also become popular is because it is often seen as a natural wine. Many consumers seek organic, ethical products from smaller producers and although not all orange wines are natural, they are generally made by smaller wineries using a low-intervention style of winemaking that is a world away from typical white wines. Their sustainable and environmentally-friendly production processes and the seemingly close contact between winemaker and wine drinkers have seen orange gain an enthusiastic following alongside other natural or artisanal wines.

What is the best time to enjoy it?

For fall and winter, orange really is the new pink! The reason rosé wines are so popular in the summer is because they are lighter and fresher than their deeply toned red counterparts (Rosé is made from red grapes but the juice has contact with the skins very briefly, just until the wine starts to be tinted pink). Conversely, orange wines are a great way to enjoy Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio in the fall and winter, because when these familiar grapes are fermented on their skins in the orange wine-style, they come out richer and heartier, all the more cozy to enjoy by the fire or paired with braised meats. Of course, this depends on the taste of each one and enjoying it cold on sunny summer days is totally recommended as well.

What dishes can I pair it with?

Because of their boldness, our expert Chef and Sommelier Michal, explain that orange wines pair excellently with bolder foods including curry dishes, Moroccan cuisine, Ethiopian cuisine Korean dishes with fermented kimchi such as bibim bap, and traditional Japanese cuisine including fermented soybeans (Natto). Due to the high content of tannin and bitterness along with the nutty tartness, orange wines pair with a wide variety of meats from beef to fish.

So now that you know what orange wine is, where it originated and what are the best dishes to enjoy it, you may be wondering…where do I get it? Well, the best part is that you don’t have to go very far to start discovering the world of orange wines. You just have to take a tour through our webshop and choose the one that best matches your palate. Keep in mind that we are here willing to chat with you to clear your doubts and help you choose your perfect match.

Thank you for getting here! We hope you enjoyed this article and that we have cleared all your doubts and why not get inspired to try new flavors. Visit us on our Facebook page and also on Instagram to keep up to date with all our content. Until next time!

See you next time!

Cheers!

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