Orange wine, a type of skin-contact white wine, is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after styles of wine in the world. In traditional white wine production, grapes are crushed and their juices are removed from the grape skins to ensure a colorless, or near colorless, wine. With skin-contact or orange wines, the skins are allowed to rest with the grape juice. This allows for more tannins to develop, and also adds the vibrant colors orange wine is known for.
Fun fact: rose is another type of skin contact wine. The main difference between rose and orange wine is that in rose, red wine grapes are pressed and allowed to sit with the grape skins for a few hours to a few days to produce the light-pink hues rose is known for. In orange wine, it is white wine grape skins that sit in the grape juice during fermentation that results in colors ranging from light hay to deep orange or amber.
While orange wine may be popular now, the practice of allowing grape juice to ferment on the lees (skins) has been going on for centuries. In Georgia, the archeological birthplace of winemaking, skin-contact white wines are called "amber wines".
What makes orange wine so desirable?
Well, in truth, it's new to many parts of the world. For most of the world, red wine, white wine, sparkling and rose wine are all normal. Orange wine has largely gone under the radar because Slovenia, Georgia, and countries neighboring these regions haven't been commercially appealing. With the advent of the natural wine movement however, orange wine, and its rich heritage, unique flavor, and gorgeous color have thrust this once obscure wine style into the spotlight.
So, there you have it - everything you need to know about orange wine.