On October 6, 2018, the first ever National Orange Wine Day was celebrated. It was a small modest celebration at Ruffian in NYC, which at that time had the largest selection of Orange Wines in the city. Since then, National Orange Wine Day has expanded and is recognized on the National Day Registry. Learn more about National Orange Wine Day here. Or Watch the video below from when I interviewed with WFLA Morning Show.
Not Sure What Orange Wine Is?
Orange wine, (which can also be known as amber, ramato, or skin contact) is first and foremost not made from the orange fruit. It’s actually white wine grapes that are essentially treated the same way as red wine grapes, they are fermented with grape skin contact, thus giving it varying hues of yellows, oranges, ambers, even brown.
Orange wine can be made all over the world and in varying techniques. The most traditional method is the usage of Qvevri or Amphora. This is an earthen clay vessel usually lined with beeswax that is then buried underground during the fermentation process. By placing these vessels underground, this aides in temperature-controlled fermentation. These practices have evidence dating back 6,000-8,000 years ago in what is now, considered the modern-day country of Georgia.
The great thing about living in this modern era is that wine makers are free to experiment and use wine making techniques and the grapes they see fit. Orange Wine has become an incredibly diverse category and is found in nearly every wine making country around the world.
Below are some of my absolute favorite oranges wines from around the world. Pick them up just in time for #NationalOrangeWineDay
“Gravner Ribolla Gialla is a skin-contact natural wine made from 100% Ribolla Gialla native grapes, fermented in Georgian amphorae buried underground; long maceration with wild yeasts and no temperature control. After fermentation, the wine rests again in amphorae for five more months and then is aged in large oak barrels for an additional six years; bottled without fining or filtering.” -Rosenthal Wine Merchants. What I love so much about this wine is how it constantly evolves in the glass. You’ll open the wine and hours later you’re drinking something completely different. Gravner is credited with bringing back the traditional wine making techniques of Qveri usage back into fashion. Currently his daughter manages the brand. This is a must try wine in your lifetime, even better if you have the patience to cellar. $92.95 at Primal Wine
“Dry natural wine made from 100% white grape varietal Rkatsiteli growin in the village Artana, Kakheti Region, Georgia. Rkatsiteli is Georgia’s oldest Grape verity dating back to 3000 BC. Artana Rkatsiteli 2017 is fermented and aged in Qvevri – large terracotta amphorae – with 6 months of skin contact, a technique that gives the wine an intense amber (orange) color.” Intense smoking notes to this wine that I personally enjoyed! It was like a little campire in a glass. Primal Wine, $34.95
“Il Censo Catarratto Prauar is a skin contact natural white wine made from 100% Catarratto organic grapes grown in Sicily. The grapes are from high-altitude parcels and undergo 14 days of maceration on the skins. Il Censo Praurar is one of the best expressions of Catarratto available on the market, with notes of honey, dried fruit, nuts, citrus chutney, and a great mid-palate. If you like orange wines Prauar is a must-try.” What I personally love about this wine is the church spice notes, its so interesting and beautiful, I really love this wine. Primal Wine, $39.95
Pretty much any wine Christian Tschida makes I’m a huge fan of. Christian’s vineyards on old vines in austrian and he uses no interventions, he makes some really beautiful, quality wines and this one is no exception. “Christian Tschida Himmel auf Erden White 2019 is a white natural wine made from a blend of Weissburgunder and Scheurebe sustainably farmed grapes grown in the Neusiedler See part of Burgenland, Austria. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and crushed by foot. The juice ferments in large barrels with indigenous yeast and no racking. It ages for one year in 500 to 1500-liter barrels and is bottled without fining or filtering and no addition of sulfur. Serving temperature: 55 F.” –Primal Wine, $44.95
Interesting thing to note, one of the protegees of Paulo Bea made Il Censo and when you taste the two side by side you can see how the one learned from the other. “Orange wine from Umbria, Central Italy, made from a Trebbiano clone known as Trebbiano Spoletino which is trained so that the fruit hangs high above the ground. The wine is left in contact with the skins for up to three weeks or more, no sulfites are added, grapes are organically farmed.” Primal Wine, $55.95
“Nino Barraco Old Vine Grillo 2018 is a skin-contact natural wine (orange wine) made from 100% Grillo grapes from old alberello vineyards (bush vines). Elegant and structured wine, made naturally from sustainably farmed grapes.” There’s a natural astringency to this wine with saline notes reflective of its coastal influences, I got gifted this wine from a friend and it was much appreciated. Primal Wine, $32.95
When I first tried this wine I was really taken back by the nose, it has an interesting nose of almost like dried flowers; its very interesting. “A profound orange wine made from an exciting blend of varietals. Structured on the palate with rich tannin yet still juicy. The grapes spend 8-9 months on the skins in stainless steel with 15 days of spontaneous fermentation.” –MYSA.wine, $38.95
“This is an “orange” wine that literally, no joke, smells and tastes of oranges. And rose water, apricot skins, ground ginger, fresh-dried hay, and late-August sunsets over Oregon’s coast range.”- Fossil and Fawn. When I first tried this wine last year I was blown away, it was literally like drinking juice, so delicious. The grapes for this wine come from Willamette Valley on the Montinoire estate, they are 37 year old Gewürztraminer vines. They sit on the skins for 237 days, the color and taste is amazing! This one is hard to find and keep stocked so run, don’t walk once the 2020 is released! Vivino, $29.99
From the beautiful country of Slovenia, this well made skin contact Pinot Gris is worth exploring. The wine has 4 weeks of skin contact with punch downs 2-3 times per day. This wine is truly orange in color, with notes of orange peel, candied peach, petrol, smoke, oil, candied ginger, frankincense, and myrrh (aka what I call Church spices). This wine is another hard find as it sells out quickly. Le Grand Tirage, $27.00
Due to its climate, Austria is a great place for low intervention wine making practices. The Christina is no exemption. “Intense, exotic aromas of tropical fruit, orange zest, and white flowers from this skin contact chardonnay.” –Flat Iron Wines, $31.99
GONC Winery Starman. This label is designed in an unconventional way with the symbol of David Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust and lyrics from Starman, inviting wine lovers for an extraordinary trip. Stone fruits, great aromatics with no noticeable volatile acidity which can sometimes happen with natural wines, and not overly tannic. Really loved this one! No added SO2 and filtration. Vegan friendly. BottleShop.com, $32.99
In truthfulness, all the vintages of Radikons Ribolla Gialla that I’ve tasted have been accross the board beautiful. This just happens to be available online which is why I have linked it. Radikon is one of those producers you cellar if you’re patient enough. The aging makes the wines even more amazing. Truly a must try in your lifetime. Radikon Ribolla Gialla 2013. Vintages Online, $75.00
“Moschofilero is a specialty of Troupis Winery, and the family has been growing it here in the Peloponnese since the ’70s. This is a very low intervention style, with wild yeast, skin contact, and it is unfined and unfiltered. Aromatic and fresh, but with a slightly tannic structure, this wine goes perfectly with seafood, and meze.” Astor Wines, $19.96