You might have heard rumour of ‘orange wine’ doing the rounds, but don’t worry, this is not some weird citrus concoction, it’s something far more novel than that.
It’s really a white wine with a bit of colour achieved by allowing skin contact in the first stages of the wine-making process. So, your orange wine is effectively a red white wine. Confused yet? Don’t be.
The process differs from rose which is red grapes that have very little skin contact, leaving the wine with those beautiful pink hues.
Characteristically, an orange wine will offer up a bit more body than its white wine counterpart, since it’s been left on the leese for a little longer, and therefore has higher tannins. The result can be more savoury, meaning a wine that holds up nicely to a variety of food.
In the USA, the red white wine has become known as an ‘orange wine’ due to its distinct colour. Huffington Post and Quartz report that some restaurants are stocking as many as 30 different varieties of orange wine to keep up with demand.
In South Africa, the concept of red white wine is hardly new. Haute Cabriere brought out a 2010 vintage, as did Bosman Family wines in 2013, and estates in the Swartland area, including AA Badenhorst and Lammershoek produce their own versions in small quantities, while many Stellenbosch and Franschhoek winemakers have dabbled in this process too.
In an article by Wine Searcher, Mike Bennie points out that internationally, orange wine is in fact far older than our conventional white wine, with the Eastern European country Georgia having made such wine for the last 5000 years.
Next time you’re out with friends, debating the difference between rose and red white wine or orange wine, you’ll have this little tidbit to offer up.