The phenomenon of the moment: Orange Wine

The phenomenon of the moment: Orange Wine

May 25, 2022


Ilaria Rosa

Orange is the fourth color of the wine that is among the fashions of the moment, it is produced with white berried grapes. Orange Wines were born in the Caucasus, present-day Georgia, thousands of years ago where, as usual, wine was made in kvevri (or kwevri or qvevri) large oval terracotta containers very similar to amphorae with an average capacity of 1000 liters.

The grape juice with the skins, the pips and sometimes even the stalks, were poured into these previously buried containers and then sealed with stone lids and beeswax. The wine remained to macerate for about six months. This practice in 2013 was declared by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. This production system is still in use in Georgia today and some kvevri are 250 years old.

Until the 1960s, this long fermentation white winemaking technique was in common use, but then it was abandoned with the birth of industrial wine. With modern crusher-destemmers, selected yeasts and the most practical stainless steel tanks, the wineries have focused on faster production with a standard wine, clear and pale in color. Starting from the mid-90s this ancient peasant tradition and now "almost disappeared", returned to vogue and reappeared in Italian wineries and in those of many other countries. Pioneers of the Orange Wines were Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon, two wine producers in Oslavia, a suburb of Gorizia, where they cultivated white grapes with firm pulp and very thick skin such as Ribolla Gialla.

Returning to the ancient method of vinification, all the nuances of the warm colors released from the outside of the grapes with the long maceration have come back to light, making the wine more structured. Among the most suitable vines to undergo this type of treatment we find in Italy: Verdicchio Marchigiano, Trebbiano Toscano, Ribolla Gialla in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Garganega in Veneto.

The duration of maceration can last from a few days to several months, this allows the wines to acquire protein and aromatic substances, tannins, bottles, terpenes, polyphenols, unique and different aromas. The final color of the wine can vary from golden yellow to amber, from orange to coppery; on the palate it will be more structured than a white wine but with more softness. For long refinements or even for fermentation, many producers prefer to use wooden barrels, this softens in a more marked way some angles that a great Orange can have.

The olfactory sensations are also linked to the production technique, and therefore range in an exorbitant catalog ranging from citrus notes, to ripe or candied fruit, aromatic herbs, pepper or cinnamon, and even dried fruit or bread crust. If on the nose the Orange Wines may have fruity or herbaceous notes, on the palate they are complex and structured, and with a good freshness and flavor. Usually these wines are produced from grapes from organic or biodynamic agriculture. Ultimately the result is a healthier wine that goes well with spicy meat dishes, cooked or raw fish, vegetable soups and Oriental cuisine. They are certainly also worth trying in combination with aged cheeses and well-seasoned and elaborate first courses. The ideal serving temperature is around 15 ° in large glasses or even balloon, the necessary amplitude to express oneself at best. Since there can often be sediments in these natural and unfiltered wines, decantation is recommended.

While remaining a niche product, these “orange” wines are increasingly viewed with interest by consumers who love new products and want to amaze.
Have you ever tasted them?

Leave a comment