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What is orange wine?

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

With some lovely amber hues, another coloured wine in a wine list at a restaurant after the reds, whites and roses, the name would make you wonder if it is really made of oranges. Over the last few years, Orange Wine has made a come back in the wine industry and has become a favourite among millennials and wine explorers alike. There is so much to discover about Orange Wine that you would be stunned. And we’re here to tell you more about it!

So, where does Orange Wine come from?

The practice of making orange wine goes way back to the 9th century, where it was first made in the Eastern European country, Georgia and was later made in Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The practice was popularized by Italians and Solivenians and has now been spread across the world and made in countries including Croatia, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, New Zealand and California.

Originally known as Karvisperi Ghvino or Amber Wine in Georgia, the term Orange Wine was coined by a popular British wine importer, David A. Harvey in the year 2004. These wines were fermented in large subterranean vessels called Qvevri (Kev-ree) that were originally closed with stones and sealed with beeswax.

As we know, the skins of grapes contain color pigments, phenols and tannins which are usually undesirable in white wines and desirable in red wines. The skins play a very major role in the making of Orange wine.

Image showing a qvervi immersed underground. c/o FT

Similar to red wine vinification, where the skins of the grapes are not removed and kept in contact with the juice for days or sometimes even months, the phenols from the white grapes are left to infuse into the press for days.

The material of the vat in which the wine is fermented impacts the final flavour of the wine as well as the duration of the fermentation.

Finally, the filtration or the non-filtration of the wine before bottling decides texture and body.

Which grapes are used for Orange Wine?

Orange wine is always made with white grapes. These varieties were usually grown in Italy, Slovenia, and Georgia. Although now they are grown in many countries across the world.

Pinot Grigio - grown in Italy and the wine there is called Ramato or Auburn

Ribolla Gialla - grown in Italy and Slovenia

Georgian Rkatsiteli - One of the oldest grape varieties grown in Georgia

What does Orange Wine taste like?

What does Orange Wine taste and smell like?

Some say Orange Wine tastes like a strongly brewed iced tea. Comparing it to wines and beers, some orange wines taste like very light red wine while some have a slight sourness similar to a fruit beer. They are more full-bodied than white wines and have a higher level of tannins. Some of the common aromas and tasting notes you will find in a orange wine are;

What to pair with Orange Wine?

Orange wines are bold and dry and have tannins similar to red wines. Due to their boldness they are paired with bold foods. They have high phenolic content from the tannins and bitterness and thus can be paired well with meats like beef and fish. Some of the commonly paired dishes or cuisines with Orange wines are:

  • Curry Dishes

  • Morrocan Cuisine

  • Ethopian Cuisine

  • Korean dishes with fermented kimchi

  • Japanese Cuisine

  • Spicy and Nutty foods

Which Orange Wines to buy?

Some of the best Orange wines in the market to choose from are mentioned here.

As more and more people are becoming aware of Orange wine, its demand has only gone up.

We hold some of the most interesting tastings and masterclasses where we talk about these undiscovered wines and whose presence have been increasing gradually.

Book a Masterclass with us and learn more.



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