June 26, 2021 by Vicki Denig

What Is Orange Wine?

Orange wine is having a moment, yet there’s still quite a bit of confusion surrounding this unique style of winemaking. Skin-contact vinification (otherwise known as orange wine) has been around since ancient times, and despite falling out of fashion for most of the 20th century, the style is coming back with a bang.

Curious to learn more? Check out the ins and outs of orange winemaking, plus five of our favorite bottles, here:

What Is Orange Wine?

Orange wine is a style of wine that incorporates vinifying white wine grapes using red winemaking techniques. Normally, white wine grapes are immediately pressed after harvest, meaning that they spend no time on their skins, whereas red wine grapes are crushed and macerated / soaked prior to pressing. This process of allowing the juice to remain in contact with the skins adds texture, tannins, and pigment to final wines. When done with white grapes, the resulting wines range in hue from light gold to dark copper and span a myriad of flavors. 

What Does Orange Wine Taste Like?

The exact flavor profiles of orange wines fall all over the spectrum, as grape variety, maceration time, and vinification techniques all play major roles in how a final wine tastes. Generally speaking, orange wines tend to have more weight than your average white wine and are marked by varying levels of tannins. Common flavors found in orange wines are bruised fruits, pithy citrus, fresh cut herbs, sweet spice, and beyond. 

Why Is Orange Wine So Popular?

There’s no denying that orange wine is certainly having its moment in the sun. These tasty wines are produced all over the world from a handful of interesting producers, and their versatility in style covers a broad spectrum of palate preferences. These wines are also somewhat of a happy medium between red and white, in that they’re textured enough to satisfy the bold red wine lover, yet also remain light enough on their feet to please white wine drinkers. Basically, when produced at the right hands, orange wines simply offer the best of both worlds!

Which Type of Drinker Would Love Orange Wine?

Because orange wine is crafted from a variety of grapes and in a handful of different styles, there is truly an orange wine out there for everyone. For those looking for something intense and grippy, seek out an example that spends extended periods of time on the skins. For curious drinkers looking to get their toes wet, we recommend seeking out wines with shorter maceration times. Curious for further details on a specific wine we work with? Text your trusty Pocket Somm at 949-284-4917!

When Should I Drink Orange Wine?

Orange wine is perfect for year-round sipping, though we especially love it in the summer. The wines’ bright and vibrant flavors are perfect for pairing with fresh summer appetizers, including grilled seafood, fermented kimchi, and Mediterranean-inspired mezze (hummus, tabouleh, and beyond). 

Top Orange Wines to Try

Looking to know which bottles we’re digging at the moment? Check out five of our top go-to orange wine picks, here.

Le Coste Bianco Orange Wine

This super crushable orange wine is produced from organic and biodynamically-farmed vineyards in the heart of Italy’s Lazio region. Crafted from a blend of Procanico, Malvasia, Rsocetto, and more, this vibrant bottle jumps with flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe peach, and almond spice. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfites. We recommend serving with hearty Asian dishes, such as Vietnamese chicken wings or Kimchi Fried Rice.

Field Recordings ‘SKINS’ Orange Wine

Looking for something light and approachable to begin your exploration into the world of orange wine? This skin-contact bottle from Field Recordings has you covered. Produced from sustainably-farmed fruit from California’s Central Coast, this zesty field blend is noted with flavors of apricot, marzipan, and peach Snapple. For an all-day sipper to enjoy by the pool, this bottle is it. Bottled with no additives, minimal sulfur, and with recyclable packaging. 

Koehnen Wine Co. Marsanne / Mourvèdre Orange Wine

Love all things funky, fruity, and fresh? This Ramato-like orange wine is for you. Technically produced from co-fermented Marsanne and Mourvèdre, this low-ABV wine (10.5%) is all things blood orange, raspberry, and tart fruits. The wine is crafted from organically-farmed fruit, native yeasts, and is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfites. If you’re seeking out the best of both worlds, this wine’s got your back. 

Young Inglewood VENN Skin Contact Sauvignon Blanc

Crafted by mother-son duo Jacky and Scott Young in the heart of Napa Valley, this varietal Sauvignon Blanc is loaded with flavors of lychee, pear skin, white flowers, and mandarin pith. The duo uses sustainably-farmed fruit and native yeasts to craft this small-batch cuvée (only 68 cases were produced!) For Sauvignon Blanc like you’ve never seen it before, spring for a bottle or two of this easy-to-love wine.

Koehnen Wine Co Skin Contact Marsanne Orange Wine

For the counterpart to Koehnen’s co-fermented Marsanne / Mourvèdre, check out this delicious bottle of varietal skin-contact Marsanne. According to winemaker Alisa Koehnen, this bottle errs on the funkier side and is vinified in barrel. Expect flavors of orange blossom, guava, and brine from this textured and tasty wine. Crafted from organically-farmed fruit and bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfites.

To browse our full selection of orange wine, click here

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