Orange wine, or better known as skin-contact wine, has ancient roots. But now, as natural wines and complex flavors are in-demand, these wines have finally been given the accolades they deserve.
Orange wines may seem novel, but they have been made this way for millennia in Georgia while modern winemakers in France, Italy and the U.S. have only recently embraced the style, says Doreen Winkler, founder of Orange Glou, which curates a collection of orange wines in both a one-time or subscription-based service.
The sudden interest in the wine, says Niclas Jansson, co-founder of MYSA Natural Wine, is due to the fact that Millennial sippers are searching for wines that are different from what their parents used to drink. The group is also shopping differently, passing up wines that receive the most points and accolades for those with a bit of uniqueness to them.
“They’re looking for niche winemakers, interesting regions, and esoteric grapes and winemaking styles. As a result, we’re seeing lots of growth in categories like natural wine and orange wine, which often ends up under the natural umbrella,” he says.
And orange wines don’t skimp on flavor, either and can definitely run the gamut. Longer maceration can often lead to herbal, medicinal qualities. This comes from phenolic bitterness that is extracted when white wines have tannin, which comes in part from that extra skin contact, says Jansson, adding that there are also orange wines with citrusy notes, or lovely caramel and nutty notes.
John Avelluto, sommelier and owner of Brooklyn, NY-based The Owl’s Head, says the flavor profile of this type of wine fills the void between a red and white wine, opening up the segment for those who don’t normally sip on the beverage.
“Having a body closer to that of a white with more bold flavors, aromas and a formidable tannic structure resembling a red, this category is incredibly versatile,” he says.
In addition to the flavor, says Winkler, orange wine has a complex consistency and stunning aromas that add to the sipping experience.
“Orange wine has this textural component to it due to the tannins released from the grape skins. It comes in all shades and forms. Aromas can range from floral to peachy to salty, umami, mushroom, spice and more,” she says.
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