Orange Wine

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

orange wine, distinctive dry and tannic white-grape wine style with links to the contemporary natural wine movement, but inspired by antiquity. As in red winemaking, orange wines are made by fermenting the juice of ripe white wine grapes on their skins and pips, usually for between a week and a year. The prolonged skin contact results in wines darker than conventional whites, in the yellow/amber/gold/orange/pink spectrum depending on variety, ripeness, duration of maceration, extraction methods, and vessel type. Clay vessels such as amphorae, qvevri, dolia, or tinajas are often but not necessarily employed, whether above ground or buried. tannin levels are also higher than conventional white wine, which can be useful in gastronomy and for natural wine adherents who bottle with low to no additions of sulfur dioxide. The genre was reintroduced west of the Caucasus for dry wine by Josko Gravner of friuli, who has bottled only orange and red wine since 1998, although he prefers the term amber to orange. However, traditional tokaji Aszu and Eszencia wines, foot-trodden white port, and many wines of georgia were always macerated. The name was coined in 2004 by UK wine merchant David Harvey, then based in Italy and tasting such wines. There is no appellation: all are currently officially labelled as white wine.