Orange wines, with their unique and captivating colour, always look very elegant. Catching up with the established trend of rosé wines, they are becoming very popular, even if there is still little information out there about what they are and how to recognize them.
They are amber wines, produced with red vinification (maceration of the skins) of white berried grapes. Therefore the colour doesn’t come from a particular grape variety but a particular production process.
During this process, the white grapes lose their typical characteristics, that allow them to produce white wines, becoming radically altered and much more complex. You can describe the resultant orange wine by saying that it has the alcohol content and flavour of white wines and the body, intensity and aromatic persistence of red wines.
The production method is old, traditional and no longer widespread. However, it is still used in some rural areas, where, since the early 1900s, mechanical machinery began to be used to separate grape stalks and skins from the pulp. So, rather than an innovation, its resurgence is a rediscovery of old traditions, in other words: a history of hard work and love!
The method has Georgian roots. In Georgia, wines are produced using this particular method, then stored in buried amphoras called Kvevri, as they have been since 6000 BC.
Not all orange wines are aged in amphoras but all are macerated. Italian producers use the Georgian production process, ageing included.
Other red wines can also be aged in amphora, and orange wines can be consumed young rather than aged, but both are a clear recovery of ancient traditions and the revival of forgotten but proven methods.
Returning to orange wines, in general they are a little more expensive because they are the result of a long and expensive manual process. Among the stand-out characteristics of these wines are aromas of resin, pear, cereals, eucalyptus and red fruits. They should be served between 12 and 14 degrees – drinking them cold like whites will spoil the taste.
They are a true sensory experience! At first they can have quite an invasive and strange impact on the nose and mouth, but if you give your senses time to adapt, they will be a discovery that you will quickly become addicted to.
In Italy, the first winery to rediscover the ancient tradition, with excellent results, was the Radikon winery (http://www.radikon.it) with the processing of pure ribolla giallo and pinot grigio grapes.
The fame of these wines (they are so popular now that there are numerous sites dedicated to the purchase of just orange wines, eg https://www.orange-wine.net/), has been boosted by their extreme versatility when pairing with food. They are perfect wines for aged cheeses, for fatty fish, for white meat, for legume soups and for all Asian dishes based on curry or turmeric. My suggestion for today’s perfect pairing is with ‘melanzane alla parmigiana’!
I agree with Agnese: MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA (aubergine parmigiana) makes a very good match with orange wines.
This is a wonderful, tasty, summer dish, popular everywhere in Italy, even if the original recipe comes from the South. Here is a recipe to make MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA yourself. It takes some time, but the result is nothing but delicious: