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What is Orange Wine? (Expert Answers 5 Common Questions About This Drink)

Find out whether it's actually made from oranges.

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I’m a wine novice, but I do love tasting new types of vino. Until recently, I’d only heard of red, white, and rosé wines. Then orange wine — and its appropriately autumnal coloring — came onto my radar, and I was curious. I know it sounds a little weird, but I’m starting to see it in liquor stores and restaurants, so I figured it was time to try a sip.

Sandra Guibord, founder and CEO of Sandra’s Wine Life, answered my burning questions. “We all know there is red, white, and rosé… but orange? Is it made from oranges? Where is it from?” Guibord teases. Without further ado, here is our “Everything you need to know about orange wine” interview with Guibord, wherein she shares several interesting facts about orange wine. Consider them an introduction to your new favorite beverage.

Can you give a brief history of orange wine?

Orange wine dates back 5,000 years to the country of Georgia. This wine ferments in large clay pots secured with beeswax, which is a custom that’s still used today. Orange wines are currently made in Italy, France, California, and even in South Africa.

What gives this wine its color?

This wine gets its unique color from the white wine grapes, and making the wine utilizes a red wine method of winemaking. Meaning, after the grapes are crushed, they spend time soaking in the skins — from four days to up to a year. By letting the juice absorb the skin color and allowing it to oxidize a bit, the wine will turn a golden orange hue. 

How does this wine differ in taste compared to other wines?

The taste of orange wine is as unique as its color. Bold flavors of honey, nuts, and orange peel are supported by tannins and a dry finish. Because of its natural method of fermenting on the skins, you’ll notice a slight sour note that will surprise and delight you.

What are some of your wine recommendations?

I recommend the Quady Essensia Orange Muscat 2017, as it has flavor notes of gold in the glass, with orange and apricot flavors, to pair perfectly with your pumpkin pies. Another orange wine to try is Geard Bertrand Orange Gold 2020, which has notes of white flowers, candied fruit, and white pepper.

What foods do orange wines pair well with?

Some foods you would want to enjoy along with orange wine include roasted vegetables, charcuterie with nuts and honey, curry, Mediterranean dishes with hummus, eggplant, or feta, and spicy Thai food.

A Final Word

Learning about this drink from Guibord put me one step closer to becoming a wine connoisseur someday. In addition to her picks, I’ll be pouring Tinto Amorio’s skin-contact Monje Orange Wine for myself, as it boasts flavors of bright tangerine zest and red bamboo honey. Having a new wine to sip (in moderation, of course) is just one of the joys of diving deeper into this drink.

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