You’ve Probably Never Had an Orange Wine Before, and I Want To Change That

Posted October 07, 2014

WineLibrary Staff


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Today, I want to talk to you about Orange Wine.

So how can wine be orange? Well, most of it comes from a long period of time (even years) where the grapes are left in contact with the skins, often until the skins completely dissolve in to the wine! I'm sure you're wondering "why would someone do this?", but history will tell you this is a far more normal winemaking practice than you think.

This is not a new trend

This practice of making wine actually goes back thousands of years, where wine was originally aged in amphora (a large clay vessel), that had an open top and was usually buried in the ground. After crushing the grapes, they would leave the juice and skins together in the clay pots, and then stir them, often times until the skins dissolved into the juice. This process gives the wines a firm backbone of tannin, much like red wine, and can even create flavors and aromas that mimic red wine.

They’re made to be paired

One of the main reasons you may be unfamiliar with these kinds of wines is mostly because they are very unique, and can have a flavor profile that may be too much for some. However, when paired with the right dishes, it can be a match made in heaven. At a dinner over the summer, I had ordered a lamb heart ragu dish that was a match made in heaven for Radikon's Ribolla Gialla. It was simply stunning how the powerful, gamey flavor of the lamb heart married perfectly with the dense, almost chewy richness of the white, that opened up to show white cherry and herb notes that couldn't have been any closer to a perfect pairing.

And they’re made to last

I'll be completely honest and tell you that more than a glass or two at any sitting is tough (unless you are REALLY in to Orange wine), but fortunately because of the high tannin content in the wine, they will actually sit quite well in the fridge, even for a week or more, so don't feel rushed to finish it all in one night. In fact, I encourage you not to, as the wines evolve so much and can seemingly cross the entire spectrum of flavors.

Ok, so now you know what they are. Here are some fantastic examples orange wine for your to taste yourself!

The 2007 Radikon Oslavje - This is considerably more tame than the Ribolla, and quite a bit fresher too. This also benefits from a good decant, and is really a good "entry" in to the category.

The 2007 Radikon Ribolla Gialla - This one is for the adventurous. Very rustic, showing lots of aged red wine character, but also very opulent, so it's a mouth full of wine too. This is best served well chilled, and decanted for 2-3 hours.

Gravner Ribolla Gialla 2003 - This is really the one that started it all (well, the second time around). This is the pinnacle of Orange wine, and definitely the best example. It really carries it characteristics with more grace and polish than a lot of the others you will find the market. This is truly remarkable.

Product Label.

Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora

93 Antonio Galloni - Vinous

Item: 66219

750 mL

Retail: $99.99

$79.98 per btl

Item: 83943

500 mL

Retail: $47.99

$35.00 per btl

Item: 83944

500 mL

Retail: $47.99

$37.97 per btl