So you consider yourself pretty knowledgable about wine. You know there are red wines, and white wines, and you haven't called rosé "the pink one" for years. Well, prepare yourselves, winos, because there's a new wine in town. It's called orange wine, and it is not for the faint of palate.
First, let's start off by saying that no, there are no actual oranges in orange wine. It gets its name from its color, which can range from a faint, barely perceptible apricot, to a deep, dark amber. And while it may be fairly new to the wine scene in the United States, orange wine is the result of an ancient wine making technique that's been around for centuries.
"I usually tell people that orange wine is a white wine made like a red wine," Tom Kearney, co-owner of Brooklyn's June Wine Bar told Elle.com. "Normally, in the process of making a red wine, the skins are left to macerate with the juice for a duration of time. In white wine production the skins are normally removed after pressing."
This non-interventionist style of winemaking, with few additives, has gained popularity particularly among millennial drinkers, who are more concerned about the origins and production processes of what they consume.
Allowing the grapes to ferment with the skin results in the orange color, as well as increased tannins, which gives the wine a heftier taste than most whites. These tannins make orange wine complex enough to pair with bold, rich flavors, like red meat or salty cheeses. Tannins do not go well with fish oils however, so it is best to avoid pairing orange wine with oily fish like salmon, tune, or mackerel.
Be warned though, all of these complex flavors mean orange wine is not a beginner's beverage. Whereas rosé is easy and accessible, orange wine is often challenging and impenetrable — the edgy, experimental jazz to rosé's cheery top 40 vibe.
What orange wines should you try if you're ready to take your wine tasting to the next step? Generally, most orange wines come from northeastern Italy, along the border with Slovenia. As for specific labels, Kearney recommends La Clarine Farm, "One-Eighty" which he calls "an accessible crowdpleaser—complex but so balanced." Or, for those of you ready to dive in the deep end of oranges, Sepp Muster Erde, which Kearney's colleague Nick Gorevic calls "a very serious orange wine," that spends an entire year macerating. "This wine might be advanced," he says, "but basically everyone that tries it falls in love with it."
So as summer slowly comes to close, and you swap out your sundresses for sweaters, consider slipping out of your rosés and into something heavier, and more orange for the fall.