Orange wine is a fascinating newly rediscovered category of wine that stands apart from the main styles of white and red. Many people believe that orange wine is made exclusively from white grape varieties, whereas, unlike classic white winemaking that typically involves separation of the must from the skins and seeds, this is made by ways of red winemaking, which is fermenting the juice together with the skins and sometimes even the seeds. This prolonged skin contact gives the wine its distinct amber colour and introduces a range of unique flavours and texture.
However, the descriptor of the style refers only to the appearance of the wine and particularly its colour and therefore it is not limiting in relation to winemaking methods. As there is a variation in grape colours, particularly in the ‘Old World’, there exist pale coloured red grapes with orange tints, as well as white grapes that turn pink, purple and even close to garnet towards the end of their ripening journey. All of those can indeed produce wines of enchanting orange colours, unfolding across different hues and with the enhanced complexity and texture one may expect from long fermented wines. Moreover, the Greek winemakers, having inherited the ancient tradition of flavouring wine with natural Aleppo pine resin - which is dark amber in colour - are able to produce yet a different type of orange wine: the long fermented bold retsinas that have lately arrested our palates!
While it is tempting to classify orange wine as a ‘dense’ white wine made by skin contact, more or less in the way a ‘light’ red wine is made, the style defies this simple categorisation due to the variety of existing examples and associated winemaking methods. Orange wine possesses its own distinct character, centred around its fascinating colour, particular tannins and complex flavours, all producing a rich mouthfeel. It offers a delightful middle ground that bridges genuinely the gap between white and red wine, in terms of both appearance and winemaking. And so the wine enthusiasts are offered with a truly unique and exciting tasting experience!
If you are curious to explore the world of orange wine further, try this unique selection from our portfolio below.