I have already touched the subject of orange wines on previous posts on natural wines
because most of the orange wines also follow the natural approach or method, but following a tasting I gave a few days ago and the questions I was asked, I think there is still some confusion around orange wines.
What orange, also known as amber wines, are? Orange wines are wines made with white grapes following the same wine making process used for red or rose’ wines, fermenting the juice with the skins for a period of time, it can vary from a few days to months to even years. By following this process, not only the colour of the resulting wine is darker than your usual white wine, tending to orange, the longer the fermentation the darker the colour, but it creates a completely new category of wines.
Orange wines not only have a different colour than white wines, but they have more intense noses and palates, they don’t have the freshness we expect from a white or a rose wine’ and if the wine has been fermented for more than a few days, very often they have tannins, tannins that require bottle ageing before the wine becomes ready to be drunk, exactly like a red wine. In fact, we could say that orange wine is like red wine with an orange colour, it can match complex and rich dishes and its serving temperature is higher than white wine, around the 10-12 °C.
I started this post saying that I had touched Orange wines when discussing natural wines, the majority of orange wines producers follow a natural wine making approach that includes fermentation without added yeasts, often fermented in cement or terracotta vase, the latter seems to be very popular these days, so that the already darker colour becomes even darker due to the oxidative process taking place in many of them and we could open a new discussion on whether we should drink them or not, if we were given an oxidised white wine we would send it back.
In Italy, the orange wine revolution, if revolution can be called, started in the north east of Italy, precisely in Friuli Venezia Giulia
, a region already famous for its white wines called “superwhites” in response to the Supertuscans
and have now expanded all over the country and the world, with almost every producer producing at least one. Orange wines are nothing new, the same process was already used centuries ago, but it had been put aside until recently, to produce more approachable and easier to drink white wines.
I have tasted plenty of orange wines and it is hard to find good ones, it is now a worldwide trend and everyone is trying to jump on the wagon, exactly like sparkling wines, properly made orange wines are difficult to find because are more difficult to make, finding the balance between tannins and freshness is an art, but just like any other great wine, whether Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino, orange wines, when properly made, are amazing wines, have deepness, structure, longevity, can pair any food or can just be sipped, just don’t expect it to be like your usual white wine.