Viticulture & winemaking
Orange Wine - A polarizing type of wine
Orange Wine has been the subject of major discussions in the wine scene for several years, although its market significance has so far been very low. The German Wine Institute (DWI) provides information about the "fourth" wine color.
Name and origin
These wines take their name from their orange to amber color. This occurs during long contact with the grape skins whilst the mash ferments, a process that usually only occurs in red wine production. However, in contrast to the latter, after mash fermentation, the grapes are then often not pressed until weeks or months later. Due to this extended contact with the tannic skins and grape seeds, more tannins and color pigments are extracted than is usually the case for white wines.
Orange Wine can be produced both with traditional methods, such as maturing in amphorae, or with the help of more modern techniques in steel tanks or wooden barrels. Common to all is the long maceration time which shapes the character of the wine more than the storage container. It is also important that the wines are pumped as little or not at all and stored until they are fully fermented. This also makes them microbiologically stable so that they can be filled untreated and unfiltered. The use of sulfur as a preservative is also avoided as far as possible, sometimes completely. Nevertheless, they can usually be stored for a very long time and often only develop their potential after several years. Many orange wines come from organic or biodynamic cultivation, but this is not a requirement.
For the winemaker, it is not entirely risk-free to leave the wine to itself for months because this can quickly lead to off-flavours. On the other hand, this form of winemaking is very attractive for more and more producers because it offers the chance to produce extremely complex and full-bodied wines away from the mainstream.
Taste and aroma
Orange wines are extremely complex and full-bodied wines with a tannin-like texture that gives them a certain opulence. The characteristics so typical of white wine, clear fruit and brilliance, are hardly present. Instead, earthy, spicy and oxidative notes predominate, which are sometimes reminiscent of naturally cloudy apple juice, walnuts or cocoa powder. It can be hard to recognize the familiar character of a grape variety.
Orange wines can be very good food companions. In Denmark, for example, they are also often recommended in top restaurants by sommeliers.
The Orange Wine movement goes back to the ancient way of vinification in huge clay amphorae buried in the earth, known as Quevris, It can be traced back to early times in Georgia and has been preserved there until today. At the end of the 1990s, it was rediscovered beyond the borders of Georgia in western Europe and has now spread to the entire wine world via Italy.