The universe of wine is not as complicated as it is painted, although it is quite unfathomable. The more you think you know, the less you think you actually know. New fronts always appear that open the way to options as suggestive as orange wines. We explain what they are and why they are fashionable, so you can start including orange in your color range of wines. Because as they say: for tastes, colors.
If you thought there were only three basic colors (white, red and pink), orange arrives to break the schemes. Orange wines? Well, yes. But we are not in the County of Huelva. Orange wines have nothing to do with the traditional sweet wines of Huelva. The first are dry wines and orange rinds are not used for their production. That said, let's get to know these trans wines a little deeper.
Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds. That is, fermenting the grape with its skins (what is known as skin contact). In this way, different and very natural white wines are obtained, as the development of certain complex aromas and much more intense flavors is achieved. Its name refers to the color acquired by the musts, which can vary from a coppery tone to an intense orange, depending on the maceration, the grape variety and the evolution. They are different wines, which can be complicated for novice palates but, due to their depth, do not leave anyone indifferent.
A bit of history
Although the wineries try to stick to the original elaboration, the current winemaking technique of these amber wines has little to do with the artisanal tradition used since ancient times for the authentic orange wines of the Caucasus. These whites with a little tannin were born between Armenia and Georgia more than 6000 years ago. At that time, wine was produced in clay or terracotta amphorae of 500 to 800 liters called kvevri, which remained buried underground.
Inside these jars, the white grapes fermented and macerated with the skin and seeds in a coarser and more rudimentary way than today. No yeasts were added and no temperature or humidity was controlled, as is done today. The subsoil and the amphorae themselves took care of everything in a natural way, preserving the wine in the face of one of the most feared problems: oxidation.
What do they taste like?
From left. on the right: 'Orange Wine', by El Grifo; Terra Brisado, from Bodegas Gratias and Bat Berri, from Itsasmendi.
If something defines orange wines, it is their unique organoleptic characteristics. They are wines with structure, tannins and richness of aromas and flavors. When tasting them, they may seem light reds instead of whites, because they are full-bodied wines, sometimes mineral and with saline touches, which have very good aging capacity. Whites with the soul of reds, neither better nor worse than their brothers, simply different.
Different, and natural. That is why the most common thing is that its peculiar color is accompanied by a certain turbidity (hence they are also known as brisados wines). This is because processors do not clarify or filter before bottling. So, when you see them in the glass, don't make funny faces. That you have to add points in the winelover card. The aromatic richness and surprise at the taste level will compensate for the lack of clarity.
Finally, if you want to get the most out of them, the recommendation is not to serve them too cold. To express all their characteristics and qualities, orange wines need a special service temperature, between 13 and 16ºC. In addition, they work with all kinds of food. The gastronomic versatility is another of the benefits of this kind of wines. With the acidity of whites and the body of reds, orange wines have everything you need to succeed at the table.
7 orange wines to put into practice what you have learned
Orange Wine, from El Grifo
The first bottle of this orange wine saw the light in 2017 after a harvest experiment, but its personality has ended up making it one of the star references of El Grifo. The Muscat of Alexandria fermented with its skins and pips gives rise to a natural wine without sulfites, intense, complex and with a saline touch. Faithful reflection of the volcanic rebellion of Lanzarote. Price: 24 euros.
Skin Contact, from Peninsula Vinicultores
Fresh, with a marked acidity and delicious notes of apricot. This is the Skin Contact of Peninsula Vinicultores, an orange wine that explores the nuances of the long maceration with skins, without clarifying and with hardly any sulfur, from an organic Albariño vineyard located in Cuenca, at an altitude of between 700 and 900 meters. Price: 19.90 euros.
SiurAlta Orange, from Bodega Vins Nus
A book orange wine made naturally from white Grenache and Carignan and Malvasia, in the Natural Park of the Sierra del Montsant. A wine that shows a deep respect for the origins, with a fermentation in contact with the skins and an aging of six months in amphorae and steel vats. Very aromatic, in the mouth it looks like a white aged in barrel. Price: 16.90 euros.
Blanc d'Orto Brisat, by Orto Vins
Intense and elegant, ideal to enter the fascinating world of artisanal wines. Elaborated by Orto Vins in the D.O. Montsant, it has an aging of six months in used French oak barrels, with a soft work of batonage once a month that gives it an exquisite volume. An orange wine with 91 Parker points. Price: 21 euros.
Bat Berri, by Itsasmendi
This orange txakoli of carbonic maceration and spontaneous fermentation, has a small aging in jar of white clays to refine all its nuances, and conquers with an intense nose and an explosion of passion fruit and apricot on a balsamic background. Itsasmendi makes it with the whole bunch, without destemming. Price: 20 euros.
Komokabras Orange Tinalla, from Adega Entre Os Ríos
This original Albariño is the product of the maceration of the grapes together with their skins, which gives it a unique amber color and a structure and tannic intensity uncommon in whites. Made in the town of Pobra do Caramiñal in A Coruña and aged for 10 months in 300-litre clay jars, this orange wine is structured, voluminous, fresh, tasty and balanced. Price: 19.65 euros.
Terra Brisado, by Bodegas Gratias
This orange wine ferments and ages in a small jar of baked clay made by hand, the container that has always been used in La Manchuela to make wine. A 100% late natural breeze, of artisanal elaboration and minimal intervention, which extracts the value of what is hidden in the skin of this almost forgotten local variety and that supposes the return to the origin of Bodegas Gratias. Price: 21.95 euros.