Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, September 2 2021

Top 10 : Orange Wine

By: Treve Ring
A spotlight on skin contact whites

You’ve no doubt heard about orange wine, and most likely tried some of these characterful wines yourself.

But do you know what you're drinking, or why they’re called orange?

First off, not the hue, which really is more amber, and ranges from pale yellow gold to deeper bronze. It’s the process. Orange wines are white wines made like red wines; the juice is fermented with the skins, leaving them in contact from a week up through a year. This gives the wine its characteristic hue, but also a fuller body, higher phenolic content and more tannins and grip on the palate. A better (though less colourful) name would be "skin contact whites". An ancient winemaking technique, these wines are common from areas with lengthy winemaking traditions like Georgia, Slovenia, Croatia and eastern Italy, though are also found from naturalist winemakers around the globe, including BC. Befitting tradition, few, if any, additives are often used, and alternative vessels like amphora and concrete are usually engaged, making orange wines highly prevalent amongst the natural wine set. Orange wines most often are made from aromatic white grapes such as pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, friulano, ribolla gialla and muscat, focusing the honeyed notes, extracting the fragrance of citrus oils and exemplifying the savoury goodness. Nutty, oxidative and salty notes are common descriptors for these compelling wines. The best are light and thrilling, while holding texture and body; an alluring combination.

However the hue, these skin contact whites combine the freshness of whites with the weightiness and grip of reds, and with their singular aromatics and texture, make them excellent pairing companions to a wide range of foodstuffs including Persian, Japanese, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Korean. Like works with like: think salty, fragrant, umami-rich, complexed and textural.

Here are the Top 10 Orange Wines we've tasted recently at GOW:

Written By: TR
Treve Ring
Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a writer, editor, judge, consultant, educator and certified sommelier based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie's in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine.