There are certain wines, from certain producers and certain regions, that really make me think. Orange wines generally get my mental juices flowing.
The term orange is an attempt to describe the appearance of these wines, which have the essential glow that one would find in a rosé, but instead of a pink hue, the wines have an orange or amber glaze.
The color comes from the same source of all color in wine: the skins. Red wine takes hue from contact with the skin of red (or purple) grapes. Rosé wine also gets color from contact with red (or purple) grapes though white wine grapes could be included in the blend. Orange wines get their color from contact, extended contact, with the skins of white wine grapes.
Shown here is an orange wine, Iapetus Tectonic, on the left and a rosé, Ferraton Père et Fils Samorëns Rosé (Côtes du Rhône), on the right. These are both photographed in my kitchen with the evening light coming in from a sliding door behind them. Not exactly in the same position, but you get the idea of the glow, and how they have differences and similarities.
The fascinating thing, to me, about orange wine, is how many shades of “white” exist in the skins of these grapes. Let’s dig in and take a look at three wines I’ve chosen to feature here, a duo from Two Shepherds and a current release from Troon Vineyard.
Two Shepherds Pinot Gris Skin Fermented Ramato 2019 |Organic fruit from Clarbec Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, all organic, destemmed and skin fermented for five days with native yeasts. ($26)
The concept of Ramato comes from Italy, and you’ll see by the shade of this wine that these tend to hover between rosé and orange wines. This is because Pinot Gris grapes have a pinkish tone, mirrored clearly in the finished wine. Though when we typically drink Pinot Gris, it comes to us as a white wine, one that hasn’t experienced skin contact. (PS, Two Shepherds Dolce and Sofia, miniature Sicilian donkeys inspired this wine.)
Try this pairing: Mushroom risotto with peas
Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Amber, Estate Orange Wine 2019 | Made with estate Riesling, Vermentino, and Marsanne, grown right on the biodynamic Troon property in Oregon’s Applegate Valley. ($30)
Troon gave skin-fermenting a whirl with two single varietal wines in previous vintages—first a Riesling, then a Vermentino. While both did sell out, the Troon team is pleased by the “depth and complexity” that comes from the amber blend. Destemmed and fermented with native yeasts on skins for about three weeks. Troon never uses additives, and just pops a touch of sulfur before bottling to retain average sulfur levels below 30 ppm.
Try this pairing: Play around with pork chops.
Note: For more on Troon’s practices check out my piece in Wine Enthusiast: Beyond Organic: The Winemakers Leading a Sustainable Revolution.
Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris Skin Fermented 2018 | Ready to be part of a unique experience? These Trousseau Gris grapes come from the only planting in all of California, a 40 year old vineyard in the Russian River Valley. ($28)
This wine gets a similar treatment as the Ramato (mentioned above): destemmed and fermented on the skins with native yeasts for five days. I feel quite lucky to have a bottle of this wine, which is made in tiny quantities. But you can still buy a bottle (or two, but that’s it. no kidding) from Two Shepherds.
Try this pairing: Grilled chicken, thighs and drumsticks
Note: Two Shepherds is offering a super cool skin-contact bundle for $77 bucks. You get three bottles at 10% off plus a special shipping rate. Nice!
Wine Pairing Weekend
When it comes to food pairing, one can play in the range where normally a light red or rich white would be of choice. While rosé is often selected for it’s acidity, orange wines generally have more spice (sometimes, considerable spice) and body, so you’ve got a different profile when it comes to mealtime. Serve these wines cool, but not ice cold.
This month our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) group gets ‘skinny’ with our orange wine and skin contact wine story line. Here’s what we’ve got for you:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures With Camilla will be Diving into the Skin Fermented Wine Pool of Two Shepherds Winery.
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm presents Donkey and Goat Skin Fermented Roussanne: A Baaaaad Ass Wine.
- Andrea of The Quirky Cork takes up Turkish Amber Wines and Fast Food.
- Olivier of In Taste Buds We Trust is Trying Orange and Non-Orange Wine with Jamie’s Kinda Niçoise Salad.
- Lori of Exploring The Wine Glass asks Orange You Glad I Have Wine?
- Jeff of Food Wine Click! offers Wine 201: Orange Wine Primer.
- Here on L’Occasion we are Thinking Wine: The Engaging World of Orange Wine.
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass is Revisiting NY Finger Lakes Skin-Contact White Wines.
- David of Cooking Chat proffers Cauliflower Bacon Spread with Amber Wine from Georgia.
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will be featuring Orange Wines from California and Italy by Accident and On Purpose Paired with Shrimp Curry.
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish posts He Said, She Said: Ryme Cellars and the Tale of Two Vermentinos.
- Susannah of Avvinare serves up Orange Wine From Slovenia’s Movia Paired with Homemade Sushi.
- Katrina of The Corkscrew Concierge wonders Is Orange (Wine) the New Everything Wine?
- Nicole at Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Kabaj Rebula and Chicken with Mushroom Escabeche and Lentils.
- Rupal, the Syrah Queen advises us that Radikon Orange Wine – Not Just For Hipsters.
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen offers Logan Wines’ Orange Wine And The Bacon That Changed It All.
- Terri of Our Good Life declares Orange Wine is a Thing.
- Host Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog serves up A Cadre Of California Skin-Contact Wines Paired With Ethnic Fare.
We love visitors! Please join us for a Twitter chat #Winophiles on Saturday, May 9th 8:00 am PST/11:00 am EST as we explore Skin-contact White Wines and food pairings. Just follow the hashtag #winePW to join the fun!