For a long time, people thought that wine only comes in three basic colors: rosé, white, and red. Well, not quite! There is one more color, orange.

But wait, that’s not a wine made from oranges, nor a mimosa cocktail. It is a real wine made from white grapes that has a unique and distinctive taste.

What’s Orange Wine?

Now, it is clear that orange wine isn’t made of oranges, nor there are any oranges involved at any point of the winemaking process. Let’s dive into how it’s made and what it truly is.

First of all, its signature orange color is a result of the winemaking process in which white grapes are mashed up together in one vessel. Typically, the vessel is either made from cement or ceramic. Once they are mashed up together, there is a period of fermentation. The grapes can be left alone from four days and up to a year altogether with seeds and skins attached.

Despite similarities in the names between Orange Wine and Plum Wine, it’s important to remember that the former is an indicator of the color only, while the latter is used to describe both the color of the wine (at least somewhat) as well as the origin fruit which is fermented to make the wine. Plums are fermented to create plum wines, but orange wine is an orange wine made from grapes!

Orange Wine
Despite the naming similarity with Plum Wine, Orange Wine is only named due to the color (which is similar to a tawny port), not the fruit!

Most orange wine winemakers don’t use any additives. Many of them don’t even use yeast. Because of that, orange wine has its distinctive sour taste. Then there is its nuttiness, which is a result of the natural oxidation.

The Origins of Orange Wine

This is not a novelty wine, something that was recently invented by some indie winemakers. The simple truth is that the first orange wine was made some 5,000 years ago.

According to some archeological findings, orange wine was very popular in Georgia (not the US state of Georgia, but the one in Europe). Almost five millennia later, orange wine was re-introduced in Italy in 1997.

The point is just because it was off the map for so long, it doesn’t make it a new type of wine. After it became popular in Italy, its popularity expanded in countries like Slovenia, Australia, France, South Africa, the USA, and of course, Georgia. Nowadays, there are orange winemakers all over the globe.

Georgia, home of Orange Wine
Georgia (the country, not the US state) is widely considered as the “home” of orange wine. If you ever get a chance to travel there, be sure to check out some of the local varieties from a quality vineyard!

Varieties of Orange Wines

Don’t think you’ve tried one orange wine, and you know them all. Quite the contrary, there are quite a lot of orange wines, just like red and white wines. There are plenty of them, and each has a specific taste.

The point is, if you don’t like the one that you’ve tasted, don’t rush your judgment and say all orange wines are bad. There are plenty more to try that taste differently and can help you change your mind for the better.

Here is a list of top orange wine winemakers from each country where orange wine can be found (without too much effort!)

Italian Orange Wine Producers – Bressan “Carat”, Frank Cornelissen “Munjebel”, Cos, Angiolino Maule “Sassaia”, Radikon, Franco Terpin, Rinaldini, Edi Kante, Donati Camillo “Malvasia dell’Emilia”, Antonio Caggiano “Béchar”, and I Vigneri by Salvo Foti.

Slovenian Orange Wine Producers – Princic, Movia “Lunar”, and Klinec.

Georgian Orange Wine Producers – Tbilvino, Our Wine in Kakheti, Pheasant’s Tears, Alaverdi Monastery, and Lagvinari.

Australian Orange Wine Producers – Patrick Sullivan, Lucy Margaux Vineyards, Born & Raised Wines, and BK Wines.

The United States Orange Wine Producers – Pax Mahle, Red Hook Winery, Channing Daughters, Scholium Project by Abe Schoener, Shinn Estate Vineyards, Wind Gap Wines, and “Veil” by Anthony Nappa.

South Africa Orange Wine Producers – Intellego, Testalonga, Sadie Family Wines, and Lammershoek.

Austria Orange Wine Producers – Maria & Sepp Muster, Werlitsch “Amphorenwein” and “Werlitsch”, and Strohmeier.

France Orange Wine Producers – Domaine Gauby, La Sorga, Jean-Yves Peron, Chateau-Chalon, Côtes du Jura, and Vin Jaune.

Orange Wines Food Pairing

Thanks to their boldness, orange wines pair perfectly with bold types of foods. For example, curry dishes, Ethiopian cuisine, traditional Japanese cuisine, Korean dishes, and Morrocan cuisine.

Orange wines are also known for their bitterness and are rich in tannin. That makes them perfect for pairing with all sorts of meats like fish and beef.

In Conclusion

Orange wines are not for everyone, but that can be also said for both red and white wines. They have their charm, identity, and taste, which are very distinct. Their popularity is growing exponentially. It is only a matter of time when they become as mainstream as white and red wines.