Orange You Glad?

If your ears are tuned to the shifting winds of wine trends, you may have recently heard about orange wine, but ask most people in the wine industry and they will agree that the term “orange wine” is misleading. No, it is not wine from oranges. It’s not new either: the tradition of orange wine dates back thousands of years to Georgia (the one located between western Asia and eastern Europe). The name refers to the color of the wine, which tracks with the traditions of white and red, though the color of orange wine can vary from the light hues of Pinot Grigio to the depths of fresh honey.

Amanda Feldman, wine garden manager at Folktale Winery, prefers the clunkier but more accurate “skin-fermented white wine.” Orange wine is made from white wine grapes with a red wine process. Instead of first pressing the juice out of the white grapes and removing the skins before fermenting, orange wine is fermented in contact with the grape skins, as is typical with reds. The result is a deeper white wine that takes more color from the skins and boasts a tannic sensation often exclusive to reds.

Nate Cohen, beverage director at Elroy’s Fine Foods in Monterey, which carries 15 to 25 varieties of orange wine, says this process creates a more intense flavor that pairs great with rich or spicy dishes or charcuterie. As Cohen pours a bottle, he says orange wine is experiencing a resurgence along with natural wine; however, he emphasizes, “It’s catching on because it’s absolutely delicious.”

Christopher Neely covers a mixed beat that includes the environment, water politics, and Monterey County's Board of Supervisors. He began at the Weekly in 2021 after five years on the City Hall beat in Austin, TX.

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