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 lesser known wine in town that is making waves online right now. 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 not be as popular as other wine varietals, orange wine is the result of an ancient wine making technique that's been around for centuries.
This non-interventionist style of winemaking, with few additives, has gained popularity particularly among millennial drinkers. The hashtag #orangewine also has 5.3M views on TikTok with users sharing their favorite bottles, ways to mix the wine into cocktails, and explainers about the alcohol itself.
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, tuna, 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, Tom Kearney, co-owner of Brooklyn's June Wine Bar previously told Elle.com recommendations like 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 you look to host upscale dinner parties at home, or simply want to impress the next time you bring a bottle over as a housewarming gift, consider orange wine on the shelf of your local wine store. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
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