What Is Orange Wine?
Autumn, at least in New York, has not been all that was promised. When it's in the 80s and muggy, sweaters, hot cider, and cozy blankets just don't sound that appealing. Luckily, at least in terms of your wine choices, there's an easy solution to these not-so-crisp fall days: Pivot from summer's rosé to orange wine. Though it's out of the usual wine color wheel choices—white, red, green, or pink—orange wine has a lot going for it. If you enjoy white wine or rosé, orange wines will likely appeal to you, thanks to their dryness and high acidity. Plus, it's a fun, seasonally appropriate color—I mean, orange wine, come on—that has zero chance of tasting like pumpkin spice.
Orange wine, contrary to how it might sound, has nothing to do with oranges. The wine gets its distictive color from contact with grape skins. "For most white wines, the grapes go directly to the press, the juice is squeezed from them and then immediately separated from the skins," explains Katie Owen, the Wine Director of Winc. "This means minimal color is extracted from the grape’s skins. For orange wines, the juice is kept with the grape skins for the entirety of fermentation and sometimes longer, until the ‘must’ (combination of juice and skins) is ready to be pressed. This process is the same process we use for making red wines, and applying that process to white grapes is how we make orange wine."
Orange wine isn't as ubiquitous as its cousin rosé, so there are fewer offerings on the market. When it comes to selecting one, Owen recommends keeping an open mind. "The thing about orange wines is, there aren’t that many of them out there, and they are usually made in small batches. There will be a lot of variation among orange wines depending on how much time the juice spent with the skins, what grape variety the wine is made from, how the wine was aged and how long," Owen says. In general, a younger orange wine may taste crisper and more fruity, while and older one "may have more oxidative characters like the nuttiness and dessert wine characters you can often get in these wines."
Orange wines are generally more robust than white wines, which means that they pair well with heartier dishes. "Personally, I think a great pairing for an orange wine is pork or duck with grilled vegetables," Owen says. "Chill the wine before you drink it, but definitely let it warm up a little in the glass during your meal. The complex flavors of the wine will complement the somewhat fatty pork or duck." Or, of course, you can just drink it all on its own, as a nod to this not-quite-summer not-quite-fall.