Orange is a wine style that is simultaneously a glimpse into the past and into the future of winemaking. One that has connections with cultural oppression and political upheaval. A style that has an increasing number of fans but equally has caused consternation, confusion and disdain in the traditional wine scene.
Also known as amber or skin contact wines they are made by treating grapes normally used to make white wine as though making a red, by fermenting white grapes on the skins and keeping them in contact for days, weeks or even months. Look back several millennia and the normal way to make wine was to ferment all grapes, whatever colour, on the skins. This tradition largely died out but was rediscovered only a couple of decades ago, initially in Slovenia, neighbouring Friuli and in Georgia but now producers around the world are trying it out.
The results range in colour from golden through, yes, orange, to tawny, even ochre. On the nose there is an unusual vibrancy and intensity. On the palate that continues with the added dimension of tannin - that structure you get in reds that gives balance and grip.
Orange wines vary in style as much as whites or reds do but almost always come into their own with food . Many top restaurants now include at least one in wine flights with tasting menus and have a well stocked orange section in their wine list. They may not be to everyone’s taste and can be a bit hard to love on first acquaintance but approached with an open mind they are an exciting new experience, enough to enliven even the most jaded palate.
Here’s our current online selection of orange wines from around the world, made by growers who share a few things in common:
Love and respect for the planet. A desire to make wines which are fixed in a particular time and place, a vintage and a vineyard, not made to a product specification. To make wines that while they're sometimes a little unexpected, sometimes a little hazy, they're always, always delicious to drink.
The range is constantly evolving so keep checking back or get in touch.