Curious About Orange Wine?
Updated: Mar 5
Rosé is a perennial favourite come summer and with good reason. Its fresh pink hues and crisp fragrances are very appealing and it’s versatile with food, too. But the hot new wine trend being served in chic bars and restaurants and showing up at professional wine tastings is orange wine. Wondering what the difference is? Well, it lies in how the wines are made. Usually, Rosé wine is made by using red grapes that have minimal skin contact after crushing. The colour comes from the grape skins. Brief skin contact results in the delicate pink and peach shades we associate with Rosé. But #orangewine is made using white grapes and maintaining longer skin contact during fermentation. The skin contact during the winemaking process might be a few days or it could be a year. The result is wine with a slightly cloudy, orange colour. The longer skin contact also gives the wine a medium body, with a fuller texture in the mouth.
While we’re talking about orange wine, let’s look at the food to eat with it. Orange wine
suits seafood, sushi, grilled souvlaki or your favourite charcuterie and cheese board. So there are lots of options! Because it has a fuller body than whites, it can handle meat dishes better than whites. Sometimes, perhaps mid-day or on a hot summer afternoon, you don’t necessarily want a full bodied Shiraz or Cab Sauv. Orange wine will do the trick.
At a recent wine tasting, I sampled a traditional style Sauv Blanc, then an Orange Sauv Blanc, both from New Zealand's Loveblock Winery. The winemaker is Kim Crawford, well-known to wine lovers the world over. This comparison quickly showed me the differences between Orange Sauv Blanc and the traditional style of Sauv Blanc,
even though they are made from the same grape varietal. First I tasted the traditional Sauv Blanc, which showed tropical fruit, gooseberry, citrus and sweet basil. Then I tried the Orange Sauv Blanc which had a distinctive flavour profile. Initially herbaceous, the palate showed intriguing minerality with notes of apricot, saffron, grapefruit and orange rind. Both are #vegan-friendly and #sustainably crafted. I was fortunate to taste these wines with Rory Crawford, son of Erica and Kim Crawford, at Pure Discovery 2019, which presented many of New Zealand’s premium wine products.
Look for orange wines on menus at wine bars and restaurants this summer and discover a delicious difference!
Jane Staples - Wine, Food & Travel Writer