Before you say anything, no, the wine is not made from oranges. If you want that, you’ll have to head to Florida, where Florida Orange Groves Winery (and probably others) make wine from actual oranges.
Orange wine, which is a bit of an in-thing these days, is wine produced from white wine grapes that have not had their skins removed. In typical white wines, the grapes are crushed and the juice and the skins and piths are separated. Instead, winemakers take the route that red wines do and leave the juice in contact with the skins for weeks or months, depending on the producer. Because of the contact, the finished wine product takes on an (everybody together now) orange hue.
Boom. Orange wine.
The practice of orange wine — a hot trend of the last few years or not — dates back centuries, primarily to Georgia (the country, not the state), though other Eastern European countries (such as Slovenia and the Czech Republic) also lay claim to some great orange wines.
The biggest difference you’ll find in orange wines compared to their white wine counterparts is the flavor, as well as body and structure, where they’ll be closer to red wines. Orange wines are often made using very natural processes, which allow for oxidation (among other things), that in turn create sour or funky flavors more often than not.
In other words, if you’re not a wine fan, but love you some sour beers or goses, you’re probably going to like most of this stuff.
Below, you’ll find a short list of orange wines you can find to get your own obsession going. We’ve picked a selection from different countries so you’ll get a sense of what these regions are bringing to the orange wine table.
We start with a Georgian wine that uses Kisi grapes and is buried in a clay vat (a “qvevri”), which produces a deep orange-colored wine. You’ll get notes of tea on the nose and a body of fresh cherries mixed with baking spices.
A semi-sparkling orange wine with a name that means “Old Fashioned” in Greek (where the wine comes from), Paleokerisio is amber-orange in color and uses Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari grapes to create a palate that rings with baked apples, overcooked pears, and spice.
Malavasia di Candia Aromatica grapes are blended with Ortrugo and Trebbiano before macerating for 30 days on the skins then resting in tanks, barrels, and finally the bottle. Bronze in color, the wine offers baking spice and orange on the nose and a palate that shows off the tannins and acidity from the skins.
If you decide you really love orange wines, this would be the one to splurge on. Older than anything else on the list, this Italian wine is made with Pinot Grigio grapes and is, like some of the others on the list, aged in amphorae. Copper in color, the wine smells of coffee, minerals, and baking spices with orchard and citrus fruits on the palate.