Learning About Orange Wine.

Learning About Orange Wines

Learning About Orange Wines

Something I’ve been up to, but haven’t talked about much, has been a personal mission to learn more about orange wines! I first tried orange wine for the first time a couple years ago and really loved it. I always say that orange wine tastes how you’d expect it to taste. Like a crisp, citrus-y white, with a bit of a twist. Throughout the past couple months, I’ve been reading up on orange wines, ordering different bottles and trying them out, and logging my notes here.

If you are curious what an orange wine is, it’s pretty simple! Orange wines are simply white wines that had longer contact with the skins than a traditional wine would. Simon Woolf who wrote this book (which I have been reading!) describes it as “effectively… a white wine made as if it were a red.” So white grapes are left in contact with their skins for days, weeks, or even months during fermentation which creates complex, intense wines… giving the wines those beautiful bold amber, orange tints! It’s an ancient technique but has gotten really popular more recently.

If I have learned anything it’s that you learn a lot about wine from a) drinking it and paying attention, b) talking about it (I have been trying to talk more about wine with my parents as they both know so much about it), and c) taking notes as you drink and talk about it and learn more! (I still have a few more bottles to try and will be sure to update this post, so definitely check back if you are interested!).

A few really good resources:

  • How to Drink Wine, by Grant Reynolds and Chris Stang is a short but GREAT book about wine – it breaks down all the basics for you in a simple, unpretentious (and HELPFUL!) way. I can’t recommend it enough for learning more about any type of wine. I’m going to be tempted to bring it with me to restaurants once we can start eating out again.
  • Amber Revolution, by Simon J Woolf: think of this as your AP course on orange wine. This is a deep dive, giving you both the history of orange wine, everything you could ever want to know about how it’s made, and profiles on the top orange wine makers. I’ve only read a few chapters but am learning a LOT. I try to read a couple chapters every week to learn more!
  • Orange Glou is a subscription box for orange wines! It was started by Doreen Winkler (an expert sommelier and natural wine expert). While it’s a little bit more expensive than if you just bought the wines yourself, it is thoughtfully curated and perfect for those who are unsure what to try first… you know everything she chooses is going to be really good! I bought my parents and I both the 3 pack and we had fun trying and tasting them together via Zoom.

I’ll say it again: I’m not a wine expert but I do enjoy wine, and I really like learning about it. So these are just my personal musings on each wine, please don’t look at it as an expert opinion!

My Favorite Orange Wines!

Bosman Family Vineyards Fides Grenache Blanc 2016

This is a South African wine and it is DELICIOUS! The bottle can be deceiving, it looks like a bottle of white but it’s a very light skin contact wine. I like this one because it’s not sweet at all – it tastes to me, like a cross between a dry rosé and a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. It’s slightly spicy with a mineral finish and supremely drinkable. YUM. (price: around $25/bottle)

Enderle & Moll Weiss & Grau 2019

This, pictured above, is a German wine, and I discovered it via my Orange Glou box. I liked it so much that I ordered a few more bottles to have on hand for summer entertaining. Enderle & Moll is most famous for their pinot noirs and biodynamic farming. This one is nice and dry, very light, and I love how creamy it is, with a sliiiiightly mineral finish. It’s been described as a gateway skin-contact wine. The grapes were fermented for 3-4 weeks on the skin, pressed, and then moved to a 2500 liter oak cask where they mature for 10 months before filtration. (price: around $22/bottle, you can order it here!)

Camerlengo Accamilla 2017

This is the first “true” unfiltered orange wine that I tried and absolutely loved – it might be my favorite out of all of the wines in this post. A lot of the orange wines I really like are lighter in body and/or filtered so I felt kind of like an orange wine “failure” until I tried this. But it’s a little pricier than the others ($33) so it’s def more of a special occasion. This one comes from Italy and is a nice dry, crisp orange wine. It’s not too funky but it’s still on the interesting side while being extremely delicious and easy to drink. I would buy this in bulk if I were on a bigger budget (I usually stick to the $15-20 range for wine besides special occasions!) I really, really like this wine and ordered two more bottles to have on hand for the next time I want to impress someone – and who knows when that will ever be – LOL. price: $33/bottle, order it here!

Familie Bauer “Urig” 2017

This also came from my Orange Glou box. An Austrian wine! My parents and I agreed that we liked it second best (after the Enderle & Moll but better than the Lustro!)  It’s more of a true orange wine (a little funky and interesting), unfiltered, medium in body… and very drinkable. The grapes are hand harvested and then crushed and allowed to “spontaneously” ferment for ten weeks. Maceration lasts a full eleven months, and then the wine is aged in the same barrels for another 15 months. You’ll pick up notes of apple and clove. I like this one a LOT. (price: around $28/bottle, you can get it here!)

Was Medium on These!

Abbazia San Giorgio “Lustro,” 2019

This is an Italian wine, also from my Orange Glou box! It was a deeper orange than the others as it is not filtered. This is a natural wine, which is a whole other thing I’m learning about. What I thought was interesting about this wine is that the skins are present for the entire six month long fermentation process (usually the skins are removed after a few weeks), in a stainless steel tank. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. My sister hated it. My parents liked it (we’ve all been on this remote orange wine journey together, haha).  It’s pretty smooth and drinkable, but nothing about it was WOW for me, especially for the price. I definitely got notes of citrus and pear drinking this. It’s medium in body and a nice wine but IMO nothing special. (price: $43/bottle, you can order it here!)

Pleiades Roditis 2018

Okay so after drinking the two “not for me” orange wines below, and thinking maybe Greek wines are just not for me, I grabbed this one from my fridge and was like “oh crap – it’s from Greece!” (As background, I’m usually more careful about which wines I buy but for the sake of research, I basically ordered every single orange wine Bottlerocket (one of my fav NYC wine shops) had to offer. This is an organic, unfiltered wine from Greece and it’s actually pretty good. I didn’t love/obsess over it like I did with some of the wines above, but I thought it was still pretty good! It’s a little bit funky with a mineral finish but very drinkable and does not have the cider-y taste that the wines below have. (price: $22/bottle, available here!)

Not For Me…

Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio Semi-Sparkling Orange Wine 2018

Admittedly I do not love this one. To be honest, it reminds me of cider and I don’t like spiked cider. If you like cider, you’ll love this! (I am not a huge sparkling wine person to begin with, for what that’s worth!) This was a product of me (at the beginning of the pandemic) searching Drizly for orange wines and ordering a bunch to try without doing much homework.

I’ve since learned that Drizly really shouldn’t be your go-to for wine (but it’s good in a pinch). It’s a Greek wine! Paleokerisio means “old fashioned” in Greek. The local grapes (Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari) go through skin contact before fermentation which gives the wine its amber color. You can definitely taste notes of pear and apple and maybe herbs? AND CIDER, lol. It’s fine, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again. (price: $18/bottle but it’s a smaller size, available here!)

Kontozizis Roditis A-Grafo

This was just okay. I liked this more than the Glinavos but was still just okay on it? Maybe I just don’t love Greek wines? This was a really interesting exercise; tasting different wines, reacting to them, and deciding later what I felt. This one is dry and relatively smooth but the flavor profile just had me… blah. A little bit lemony with a mineral finish. It was fine. Not my favorite but I wouldn’t pass on it if a friend opened a bottle. (price: $27/bottle, you can order it here)

PS – This post has nine of my favorite (non-orange!) wines.

Do you have a favorite orange wine? Tell me in the comments! 

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Comments

  1. What an interesting experience! As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I’ve never even heard of orange wine! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Mandi says 6.16.20

    Thank you for the tip! I live in Germany and just ordered a bottle of the Enderle & Moll Weiss & Grau 2018, which is about half the price here 🙂 Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Shana says 6.16.20

    Fun post to read and I love how wineries keep adapting to try new things. I still love a solid sav blanc or pinot as well 🙂 I really got into natural wines when we lived in Africa and frequented South Africa, Villeria was a favorite! I don’t know that I have ever found a Greek wine I’ve enjoyed so if you find one please pass it on!

    • grace at the stripe says 6.16.20

      Haha re: Greek wines, i really should have known. One of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken was to Greece several years ago but I could not find a wine I liked!!!!

      • Shana says 6.16.20

        Same! We loved Greece, went to an amazing wedding there, but sadly couldn’t find a good wine 🙁 The search continues!

  4. Katie says 6.16.20

    If you ever want to venture to the Hamptons, there’s a small winery called Channing Daughters that makes a really yummy orange wine! The wineries on the North Fork are also amaze- especially One Woman 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 6.16.20

      YES you are so right! I forgot about them but love their wines… I actually went on a yoga retreat with one of their daughters.

  5. Andrea says 6.16.20

    There is a local winery (Konzelmann, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada) that does a peach wine – it’s not super sweet as its cut with chardonnay but it’s my favourite summer wine. Unsure if they would ship to NYC but if they do, it’s definitely worth looking into!

  6. Simon J Woolf says 6.16.20

    Delighted that you found your way to orange wines and to my book Grace.

    I hope you’ll get to try some of the real classics of the orange wine genre some time…. stuff like Gravner (profound and intellectual), Radikon (radical and alive), Dario Princic (just so drinkable), Vodopivec (elegant), Mlecnik (classic).

    Wishing you many more orange and natural tasting adventures.

    • grace at the stripe says 6.16.20

      Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you read my post! Thank you so much for the list, consider it DONE!

  7. Meghan says 6.16.20

    I ordered “How to Drink Wine” after seeing it on Hitha’s Instagram (or newsletter?) and it’s SO GOOD! I learned so much, and agree, I want to bring it to stores/restaurants with me when that’s advisable so I can remember everything!

    I’ve not tried orange wine but interested in giving it a go thanks to you. 🙂

  8. Kate says 6.16.20

    Ooh interesting, I love the Paleokeriso, though admittedly I go hard for both sparkling and Greek/eastern European wines so that could be down to personal preference. Will have to check out the others! Thanks for the recs!

    • grace at the stripe says 6.16.20

      It def comes down to personal preference! So funny how all tastebuds are different!

  9. Julie says 6.16.20

    Orange wines are just starting to creep more into my local Midwest market. I’ve been smitten since trying some Georgian wines during an NYC trip last year. It’s so neat to see all the regional variations now that I’m learning about them. I’ll definitely have to follow up on your book rec from Simon Woolf since it’s one area I might be ahead of the curve locally!

  10. Jen Volk says 6.17.20

    Try Channing Daughters Ramato! It’s the best!

  11. Jack says 6.17.20

    Hi Grace!

    I’ve been looking for Lustro for the longest time in NYC. Your link is out of stock btw. Do you have another link to get it?

    I’m also a member of Orange Glou and have been really loving the wines so far. Only issue is I cannot seem to find them in stores! The wine shops around me all have no luck in being able to order these wines for me. Seems most of the wine is ridiculously hard to find on my own.

    Currently obsessed list from them that I cant find:
    Lustro
    Bauer Urig
    Yetti and the Kokonut Fruit Basket
    Radikon
    Matassa
    Partida Creus

    • grace at the stripe says 6.17.20

      Hi Jack! I’m sorry, maybe try googling around? That’s what I did!
      Or maybe reach out to Orange GLou directly!

      Thanks for the list!

  12. Sara says 6.21.20

    Sent my dad some orange wine for Father’s Day thanks to your post. He loved it!

  13. Emma says 6.21.20

    Love that you’re getting into orange wines! I lived in Tbilisi, Georgia a couple years ago and was introduced to the traditional 8,000 year old Georgian wine making tradition (in clay pots called qveris)! It’s fascinating stuff and many families continue to make wine in this same way today. One of my favorite Georgian wineries is called Orgo. I’d highly recommend checking out their rkatsiteli and kisi varietals if you like slightly funky amber skin contact wines. I think you can order them on georgianwinehouse.com!

  14. Laura says 6.24.20

    I’ve never heard of orange wine but I am v interested in trying some of these recommendations. I also want to check out the book “how to drink wine.” I’ve never heard of it but will be diving in soon! Thanks for sharing!