Culinary & NightlifeWine & Spirits

Orange Wine: A Rediscovery of an Ancient Tradition

Orange wine, despite its name, is not made from oranges but from white grapes. This unique type of wine has been enjoying a renaissance among wine enthusiasts and sommeliers around the world. Its distinctive production process, appearance, and taste set it apart from other wines, making it a fascinating topic for both seasoned connoisseurs and curious newcomers.

What is Orange Wine?

Orange wine is essentially a white wine that is made using a production method typically reserved for red wines. While white wines are usually produced by fermenting grape juice without the grape skins, orange wines are made by fermenting white grape juice with the skins and seeds still intact. This method imparts a deeper color, ranging from a golden hue to a rich amber, which is why it is called “orange” wine.

The Making of Orange Wine

The process of making orange wine starts with selecting white grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Ribolla Gialla. The grapes are harvested and crushed, and instead of immediately separating the juice from the skins and seeds, they are left to ferment together in large open-top containers. This skin contact can last anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the desired intensity and flavor profile.

During fermentation, the skins and seeds impart tannins, color, and complex flavors to the wine, similar to the way red wines are made. After fermentation, the wine is aged, often in clay amphorae, wooden barrels, or stainless steel tanks. The aging process allows the flavors to meld and develop further complexity.

Differences from Other Wines

Orange wine stands apart from other wines in several key ways:

  1. Production Process: Unlike white wines that avoid skin contact and red wines that use red or black grapes, orange wines use white grapes but follow the skin contact fermentation process of red wines.
  2. Appearance: The extended skin contact gives orange wine its characteristic deep, amber color, which is quite different from the pale yellow or greenish hues of typical white wines and the ruby or purple tones of red wines.
  3. Flavor Profile: Orange wines possess a unique flavor profile that blends characteristics of both white and red wines. The skin contact introduces tannins, which are usually absent in white wines, providing a textural complexity and a slight astringency.

What Does Orange Wine Taste Like?

The taste of orange wine can vary widely depending on the grape variety used, the length of skin contact, and the winemaking techniques. However, some common flavor notes include:

  • Nuts and Dried Fruits: Flavors of almonds, hazelnuts, and dried apricots are often present, giving the wine a rich and layered profile.
  • Herbaceous and Spicy Notes: Many orange wines exhibit aromas and flavors of tea, herbs, honey, and spices like ginger or cinnamon.
  • Oxidative Characteristics: Due to the traditional fermentation and aging methods, some orange wines may have oxidative notes, reminiscent of sherry or cider.
  • Tannins and Acidity: The tannic structure borrowed from the skins and seeds provides a dryness and astringency not typically found in white wines, balanced by a refreshing acidity.

The Rediscovery and Popularity

Though the method of making orange wine is ancient, with roots tracing back thousands of years to regions like Georgia, its popularity has surged only in the past two decades. The natural wine movement, which emphasizes traditional, low-intervention methods, has played a significant role in this revival. Enthusiasts appreciate orange wine for its artisanal qualities and its expression of terroir – the unique character imparted by the specific vineyard’s soil, climate, and cultivation methods.


Orange wine offers a compelling blend of history, tradition, and innovation. Its unique production process, striking appearance, and complex flavor profile make it a standout choice for those looking to explore beyond conventional wine categories. Whether you are a seasoned wine lover or a curious newcomer, orange wine invites you to experience the rich tapestry of winemaking heritage and the endless possibilities of flavor.

Annika Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen

Hi, I am from Stockholm Sweden, and now in the USA (Houston). Design; Decorative and Applied Art; Fashion; Interior and Textile Design- from Uppsala University (Sweden) I do Graphics, Art, Fashion projects I am now Affluent Attorney and Chief Creative Officer position Chief Creative Officer for Art of Whiskey/A-Society Thankful to God and my sister for new beginnings, blessings, & opportunities. "De som önskar att sjunga hittar alltid en låt." (In USA is: "Those who wish to sing, always will find a song.") :)