After months of stifling, sweltering weather, you’re probably pretty psyched about the arrival of sweater season. The only downside? It’s about time to say goodbye to your beloved rosé until next summer.
No need to pout, though, because orange wine is here to take your pink drink’s place. Thankfully, we’re not talking about a bizarre mash-up of vino and pumpkin spice, which would probably be pretty gross. Orange wine is a funky type of white wine, and people in countries like Georgia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy have been making it for centuries.
As with so many other delicious fermented foods (what’s up kimchi, brie, and miso), we’re just the last ones to the party. But hey, we made it—so now it’s time to enjoy.
So what makes orange wine, well, orange? Basically, orange wine is white wine that’s made like a red wine. Normally when white wine is made, the grape skins are discarded right away, so you get a wine with a pale yellow color and virtually zero tannins. Red wine, on the other hand, is made when red grapes spend days, weeks, or months macerating in the juices of their grape skins, taking on loads of red color and a more astringent flavor. (Rosé is made from red grapes, too, but it’s pink because it only macerates in the juices of red grape skins for a few hours.)
Orange wine, like white wine, is made from white grapes. But instead of tossing the skins, the white wine grapes are left in contact with them for a while. (Experts actually call orange wines “skin-contact whites” for that very reason.) As a result, the wine takes on a sunset color and a heftier flavor, explains Tyler Kennedy, wine director at Vinebox, a wine by the glass club. And the longer the grapes hang out with their skins, the more orange the wine gets.
Great, but how does it taste? Probably pretty different from any other wine you’ve ever had—in a good way. While rosé and regular white wine are crisp and mineral-driven, orange wine’s flavor is deeper and more complex. “They’re full of Brazil nut, honey, linseed, and dried orange flavors,” Kennedy says. “They’re great with food, but I would make sure you’re seated the first time you have a chance to try an orange wine.”
In other words, it might kinda blow your mind. If you’re ready to give it a try, you can’t go wrong with Donkey & Goat’s 2015 Ramato Pinot Gris, a biodynamic wine made in Berkeley, California, recommends Kennedy. It’s refreshing like your favorite rosé, but funkier and more flavorful. Orange you glad you have an alternative to your usual Cabernet now that summer’s over?