Orange Wines: What are they? Which ones should you try?
Have you ever heard of orange wines? Although produced with an ancient style, orange wines are new to the wine market. The wine’s prolonged contact with the skin of the grapes before and during production gives it unique flavor and color for a wine obtained from white grapes. The wine is essentially produced as if it were a red wine, but with white grapes, creating an orange-ish color and an intense, robust flavor. The wine’s skin lends substance, creating a wine that is complex both in the nose and the mouth.
The production of orange wines is an ancient practice, traditionally engaged in by farmers, which had nearly disappeared with the introduction of new machines and cantinas that allowed for the elimination of the grapes’ skins immediately. However, the tradition remains in Georgia, the birthplace of wine, and in some of the Italian countryside, where simple, country wine which has always involved the grapes’ skins in the production. Tuscany, Friuli, Emilia, Veneto and Liguria are places where you can still find traditionally produced wines with the white grapes’ skins involved in production.
The result of this production method is a wine that is perfect to accompany the cuisines of its origin, as well as some Asian cuisines. Seafood, white meats, lamb, or goat also pairs well with these wines. For vegetarians, orange wines pair nicely with classic Mediterranean soups, as well as more sophisticated dishes such as eggplant parmesan, or mixed vegetable tempura.
Orange wines are best served chilled, around 15 degrees Celsius. They are well adapted for medium to long term aging. Those with a long maceration time are especially nice when aged for some time. Normally these wines are organic or biodynamic, given that the grapes’ skins will end up in the wine. This means that chemicals are avoided both for safety and especially taste. That renders orange wines safer, and although they may be complex to understand, they are extremely rich in perfumes and flavors that are sure to impress.
La Maremma region of Tuscany is a great place to start learning about orange wines. This region has traditionally produced rustic, full-bodied white wines, and continues to do so today with biodynamic orange wines high on the list of offers. Some orange wines from Maremma share traits with red wines, given their rich texture and tannins. The purpose of the skin contact in the production of orange wine is to add depth and character to white wines that might be somewhat neutral. This allows for grapes that might produce a bland white wine to be utilized to their full potential. In Maremma, for example grapes like Greco, Procanico, and Ansonica are used to develop more bold, rich flavors.
Spending time in the Tuscan countryside gives you the chance to study the world’s best wine, and not just the traditional, fine wines associated with Tuscany and Italy. We want our students to experience a range of wines, including those that may be less common – like orange wines. Our visit to Maremma is the perfect way to learn about this ancient tradition that is growing today in popularity. You will get to experience some of the world’s best biodynamic orange wines and speak with the producers to get a behind the scenes experience that will have you heading home as an expert in Tuscan wine.