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The Food and Beverage Insider: The Orange Wine Guide

 In the last five years, you may have noticed a new wave of funky, natural wines popping up on the market. When the natural wine movement began in the United States about five years ago, orange wines came with it. Despite its name, orange wine is not made from oranges, but is named for its deep amber hue. Orange wine is known by some as the cold weather rosé, but these wines can (and should) be enjoyed year-round. They range in body and color from light to bold and are known for their funky aroma, although there are many examples of elegant and smooth orange wines.

Orange wine is made from the same white wine grapes you are probably already familiar with. When you have a green and purple grape you can clearly see the difference in color from the skin, but what about the juice? No matter the grape, the juice comes out pretty much clear. Red wine gets its hue from the skin of the purple grapes, rosé also gets its hue from the skin, but sees less time in contact for a lighter color, and white wines see no skin contact. Orange wine is made by exposing white wine to the grape skins, this creates the orange hue and adds body and tannin to the wine. This technique has been around for thousands of years and originated in the country of Georgia.

Orange wine is commonly known for notes of bruised fruit, nuts, cider and apricot. Orange wine is a great option for cider and beer lovers, the oxidation creates a tart flavor similar to that of a fruited sour beer. You can also find sparkling orange wines on the market, Glinavos, Palaiokerisio, from Greece, is a natural, orange sparkling wine with funky, savory-sweet notes and is perfect for sipping on the beach. Orange wines can vary in flavor profile and body, and therefore pair well with a lot of different foods. The tarter, sparkling styles can pair well with fried food like calamari, and the bolder wines stand up well to spicy foods. Funky cheeses are also perfect to enjoy with a funky bottle of wine.

Funky, tart wine may not be for everyone, but it is certainly worth trying, especially for wine enthusiasts, as it is one of the oldest wine-making methods in the world. You can certainly impress your friends at your next get together by bringing something they’ve probably never tried before, and possibly haven’t even heard of! Many orange wines are coming out of Italy these days, but countries all over the world are beginning to explore this skin-contact method. If you’re hesitant to try out an orange wine, pick a wine grape you already know you like, an orange wine made from pinot grigio will still taste similar to a white pinot grigio. Keep an open mind when it comes to orange wine, your palate just might surprise you.

 By Natalie Crooks

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