Ok y'all, things are about to get weird...and a little bit crunchy. Can you handle it? Today's post focuses on orange wine. No, this is not wine made from oranges. Nor is this a very light rosé. In it's simplest form, an orange wine is a white wine made in the style of a red. Let's rewind a bit. If you remember from previous posts, red wines are made from prolonged maceration with red grape skins. The skins are left in contact with the juice, giving it color, structure, flavor and tannin. On the contrary, when making white wine, the juice is fermented without the skins. This brings us back to orange wine which is white wine fermented with the skins aka in the style of red wine. Make sense?
Let's talk about the flavor of orange wines. These wines are incredibly interesting and complex as they carry the tannic structure of a red wine but the weight of a white wine. You might find hints of stone fruits, spice, nuts, bitter herbs and minerality. Some of them even have a slightly oxidized flavor similar to that of a dry sherry. Orange wines range in color from pale gold to a deeper tawny color. They typically pair well with spicy Thai foods but I would also pair them with traditional Spanish tapas.
Orange wine history dates back to traditional winemaking but is making somewhat of a revival at the moment. The primary wine regions leading the orange wine revival are Friuli, Slovenia and Georgia. I found a fantastic bottle of 2011 Radikon "Slatnik" from Oslavia. Oslavia is a town in Friuli, Itlay, on the border of Slovenia. This wine is a blend of Tocai and Chardonnay grapes with pronounced oxidative notes of toasted caramel, orange rind, peaches, citrus and earth on the palate.
So now you have the facts. But here's the thing about orange wines- they ain't cheap. I'm talking $30-$60. The Radikon is $47.95 from J. Emerson. You all know that I'm always on a mission to find the best quality wines at low prices, but, trust me when I tell you that orange wine is not where you want to skimp. If you're buying an orange wine, buy a good one. My argument? 1. These are not wines you're going to drink everyday and you will probably only have a couple glasses. Plan a night to drink a bottle with friends and food. 2. I guarantee you have never tasted a wine like this. Even if you don't enjoy it, it's a great way to expand your palate and your wine knowledge. Tasting is the best way to learn! 3. Your friends will be uber impressed with your wine knowledge and it's always fun to be the friend who knows about wine :)
Lastly, where do you buy orange wine? Any specialty wine store will most likely carry at least one bottle. J. Emerson's currently has 4 bottles in stock. You might also find them on the wine list an upscale Italian restaurant. If you have any questions about orange wines, feel free to send them my way! Happy tasting!