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Orange Wine

In this category, you will find a fantastic range of orange wines. 'What is orange wine?' - I hear you say. Well orange wine is not made from oranges. It is an ancient style of wine which has been around since the dawn of wine production and has its spiritual home and most likely origins in Georgia, (the one next to Russia, not in the US). It is a style of wine which died out in the 20th century but has been revived in the last 20 years or so particularly in places like Friuli in Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and areas of southern France and northern Spain. Orange wine is made from white grapes which have been fermented with some element of contact with the skin. White wine is made from whites grapes where the juice is pressed out and the skins are discarded. The juice is clear hence clear white wine. Red wines are made from red grapes also with clear juice which is pressed out but then the skins of the grapes are added back to the juice and this 'skin contact' provides the colour. So, in effect Orange wines are white grapes with red wine production.

The skin contact gives the wine a range of colours depending on the grape variety and the length of skin contact. Pinot Grigio for example has quite a bit of grey or pinky colour to the skin and so produces quite deep coloured orange wines. An orange wine with 2 weeks skin contact will generally be a paler colour than one with 3 months skin contact. The skin also imparts a different flavour profile to the wine compared to conventional white. It will have more savoury elements, often spicy and aromatic notes like ginger and clove, and also more mature of bruised fruit aromas. The skin contact adds an element of tannin to the wine like a red which again depends on the time with the skins and also an extra degree of body. However, orange wines do have a degree of freshness more commonly associated with whites and so are best served cool if not completely chilled.

Orange wines are most commonly produced by smaller, artisan producers whose aim is quality, not quantity and lend themselves well to natural production. Orange wine needs to be made from clean, healthy fruit so organic vineyards are almost essential. The skin contact adds a degree of natural preservative so they are often made of very little or no added sulphur. They are also experimental wines for many smaller producers outside of their core production where the wine maker will use varying kinds of maturation in wood or amphorae and experiment with maturation times, oxygen use and sulphur levels. The results can sometimes be quite extreme in flavour . That said, some producers like the 'King of Orange', Radikon, specialise in orange wine and make no white at all and have perfected their production over many years so the wines are always complex, layered, fresh and elegant.

Orange wines are an excellent alternative for those people who mainly like red but want something fresher or those who drink white but want more body and savoury flavours. They are very versatile and work with all manner of foods including strong cheeses, spicy food and curry, roast meats, vegetable dishes and even desserts. They are exciting wines which always get a reaction one way or the other and offer a whole new world of experience and emotion for the passionate wine lover.