It's definitely one of the greatest wine trends in the world! In recent years, a great fuss was created about orange wines and it is not without cause. But what is orange wine? How does it taste? What dishes can we pair with it? Read below to get all your questions answered.
The process of producing orange wine is very old, but the revival of this ancient process has come back in the last 20 years. It all begun 5,000 years ago, in Caucasus (modern Georgia), where the wines were fermented into large underground vessels called Qvevri ("Kev-ree") that originally were closed with rocks and sealed with beeswax. In addition, traces of orange wines have been discovered in both Friuli, Italy and Slovenia.
The orange wine is made from white grape varieties and gets its distinctive color from the fermentation with skin contact for days (from 4 to 1 year). The fermentation can be done in a barrel, stainless steel or cement tank or even in amphora-shaped clay pot. Usually the fermentation is done with indigenous yeasts and no sulphites or other additives are used. Orange wine is a wine of a mild natural vinification.
As you probably imagine, the long-term stay with the skins (peel), besides color, it also gives a tannic substance to wine that sometimes reminds of red wine. The aromas you may encounter in an orange wine have a strong oxidized character. When we say oxidized character, we mean aromas of nuts, bruised apple, orange and quince. At the same time, you can find notes of sour dough, toasted bread, lotus, dried apricot, peach, tropical fruit, citrus and honey. Depending on the medium used for fermentation and aging, it also acquires a different character. The amphora gives a more earthy dimension to wine, while the barrel gives a spicy character.
Now, regarding the pairing with food, the combinations are many and very interesting. The impressive complexity and intense character of orange wines can stand beside "difficult" ingredients and rich, bold dishes. For example, an orange wine could accompany dishes of Indian curry or Korean dishes with kimchi (a pickled fermented vegetable, such as cabbage, with an acidic and spicy flavor). On the other hand, Greek cuisine can provide many ideal pairings such as an eggplant salad with smoked eel or a fava bean cream with herring and onion pickle. Difficult ingredients to pair with wine such as asparagus, artichokes and garlic are allies for orange wines. Also, fatty meats such as lamb or goat, can become dreamy with an orange wine that has both acidity and structure to accompany them.