Many blog posts have been written about orange wine already, so why not write another one? It has been a couple years since they were massively en vogue amongs the wine geek literati and, not discounting its lovely fall color, orange wine does also go very well with many of your favorite fall foods. So here’s a reminder.
What is orange wine? In short it is a white wine (usually dry) that has undergone skin maceration. What’s skin maceration? It’s when the (almost always clear) grape juice stays in contact with the grape skins after pressing. In addition to imparting color–ranging from a pale ochre to deep umber and every yell0w-red hue in between–the wine also picks up characteristics normally associated with red wine like tannin and the distinctive flavors and aromatics obtained from the skins.
This process can turn something like Pinot Grigio, which is typically very light and fresh when made as a traditional white wine, into something drastically difference in density and complexity. The structural elements of the tannin allow the wine to hold up to stronger dishes like roasts and also help cut through the richness of stews and ragouts.
So what to drink an orange wine with? Why not some lovely orange pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli? Or herb-crusted citrus-roasted chicken? Or why not go heavier with rich fall favorites like cassoulet or mac and cheese? So many options.
Most good wine shops will have a few orange wines available for sale, so just ask your friendly neighborhood wine monger. Most of the better orange wines available in California are imported from Northern Italy or Slovenia, but we’ve begun producing orange wine in the United States and good examples can be found from other parts of the world. Happy hunting!