For most people, these are the only colours of Italian wine in existence. And it makes sense seeing as…well…those basically are the three colours that you’re going to come across on any Italian wine website.
But there’s a fourth colour.
A fourth colour that very few are aware of right now but that may become more popular in the future.
What on Earth is orange wine?
That, along with several other questions, is what we aim to answer in this article as we take a deep dive into a new wine colour.
What is Orange Wine?
Your automatic assumption after seeing the words “orange wine” is that this type of wine is clearly made using oranges. After all, you probably already know that some producers can make wines with other types of fruits. And given that many white wines have citrus notes, it stands to reason that somebody has figured out a way to use orange juices to create a new type of wine.
But you’d be wrong.
Not about the new type of wine but about the fruit used to make it.
Orange wine is actually a twist on standard Italian white wines. It’s made by leaving the seeds, grape skin, and similar by-products in white wine juice, in much the same way that many red wine producers use the entire grape when making their wines.
The result is similar to a white wine. However, the wine will take on an orange hue, giving it a unique look that could trick some unsuspecting wine lovers into thinking the wine is somehow incorrectly made.
How Does the Process Change the Taste?
“Intense” is the word that many people use when sampling an orange wine for the first time. In addition to enhancing the citrus notes that are often present in white wines, the orange wine production method also produces a tannic quality that is typically absent in white wines. Many people also say that orange wine has notes of bruised fruit, which are typically more powerful than regular fruit notes.
So, we could perhaps class orange wine as being similar to rosé wines in that they offer a middle-ground between white and red. But where a rosé takes on a pink colouring that shows it to be closer to red than white, orange wines are closer to whites than reds.
Interestingly, many have compared their first taste of orange wine to be similar to drinking a sip of a fruit beer. So, expect something very different from your typical white wine, though not so complex that it feels like a red wine.
How Should You Serve Orange Wine?
Let’s say you get your hands on a bottle of orange wine.
How should you serve it? Should it be chilled like an Italian white wine or served at room temperature after decanting, like a red?
The answer isn’t cut and dry.
Examine the grape varietal to see what the producer has used. If possible, check their serving instructions to find out what they have to say. While some orange wines are at their best when they’re chilled, others have fuller bodies that mean they benefit from a slightly warmer serving temperature.
We can give more general advice for sparkling orange wines and orange dessert wines. Both are usually best served chilled.
What Foods Pair Well With Orange Wine?
So, you have this wine that’s a little like a white wine, though a fair bit more intense. However, it’s still not as complex as a red wine, which may leave you feeling confused about what types of food to pair it with.
And it’s true that these kinds of wines can be difficult to pair.
After all, in addition to their more intense qualities, orange wines often have nutty notes of almonds and similar nuts.
But here’s a general rule to follow:
If you have a bold wine, you should match it with similarly bold foods.
In the case of orange wines, the best pairings are often Asian dishes they have a slightly spicy kick without being overpowering. Traditional Korean and Japanese foods work well with this type of wine, as do some Chinese dishes.
However, you may find it difficult to pair with traditional Italian foods. Your best bet is to sample the wine first to figure it out. Once you’ve memorised the flavour profile, then you can start looking for foods that combine well with it.
Are Any Unnatural Materials Used to Get the Colouring?
You’ll be happy to hear that there aren’t.
Some strangely coloured wines do use external materials to achieve their distinctive hues. For example, you may have come across blue wines before. These types of wine are made from a combination of red and white grapes, making them a little similar to rosé wines. However, their colouring comes from the addition of indigo pigments and a chemical called anthocyanin.
Orange wine doesn’t work that way.
Its colouring is an all-natural result of the production method used, meaning you don’t have to worry about putting something weird in your body for the sake of a novelty colour.
How Long Has Orange Wine Existed?
We assumed that orange wine was a fairly new invention when we first heard about it. After all, it’s not like it’s a regular fixture on most supermarket shelves.
However, delving into the history books shows us that there is evidence that orange wine has existed, in one form or another, for over 6,000 years. The first traces of it are found in Georgia, where it’s likely that early wine producers used the entire white wine grape rather than adopting modern techniques that involve separating the juice from the rest of the grape.
The Final Word
Is orange wine going to become all of the rage in the world of Italian wine?
Few producers choose to adopt the unique production method, making orange wine a niche product. Still, it’s a legitimate type of wine that uses an all-natural production method, meaning it’s worth sampling if you ever come across any.
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