What Is Orange Wine? Plus, 4 of the Best Orange Wines under $25, According to a Sommelier
There are so many reasons to love wine. If it's enjoyed in moderation (think: one to two glasses per day), it can help improve your heart health and reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease and can help you de-stress at the end of the day. Wine comes in many different flavors and styles, and many of us are familiar with red, white and rosé wines. But what is orange wine? Here we dive into how this trending type of wine is made, the best food pairings for orange wine and the best four bottles under $25.
What is orange wine?
To learn more about the nuances of orange wine and wine in general, we connected with Breana Killeen, M.P.H., RD, who is a trained chef and sommelier (talk about an impressive résumé). She explained that, typically, wine is made from pressed juice. The primary difference between types of wine is the varietal of grape used and whether the skins are kept on the fruit. White wines are made from white grapes that are pressed and have their skins removed prior to fermentation, whereas red wines are red grapes that are pressed and fermented with their skins to draw out flavor and tannins. Rosé wine is made from red grapes that are pressed and have skin contact for a very short period of time to impart some flavor and tannins.
"Orange wine is made like red wine except with white grapes," adds Killeen. "After the white grapes are pressed, the juice is fermented with the skins and the resulting wine has a deeper, sometimes amber color, and the common term for this product is orange wine."
Orange wine flavors & food pairings
The skins of grapes can add flavor, color and complexity to wine, and orange wine is no exception. "Orange wines tend to be a bit more complex and have more depth than easy, quaffable whites and reds," explains Killeen. She elaborates that they can be richer in aroma and weight than other white-grape wines, and might taste more like a sour beer than a typical wine. Killeen suggests pairing them with funky cheeses, meat or lamb dishes or spicy Chinese dishes like kung pao beef.
"Since you serve [orange wines] cold, they're really refreshing on a hot day, but I also think they're great as part of a wine tasting, since it's a different type of wine," says Killeen. "Honestly, the best occasions for these [wines] are with friends who want to try something new!"
The 4 best orange wines under $25, according to a sommelier
Orange wines are a fun addition to a dinner party with friends, especially with warming weather around the bend. With any type of wine or beer, it can be hard to navigate all of the options at the store or online. To help you dip your toes into the world of orange wine (or expand your repertoire), here are the four best orange wines under $25, according to Killeen.
This wine is a beautiful and affordable option for someone who is new to orange wines. The Bauer family is dedicated to sustainability and diversity in their winemaking, and it shows in this well-balanced and bright grüner veltliner wine. High in acid and medium in body, the grapes get 30 days of skin contact and yield lovely notes of citrus and grass.
This wine might be more readily available than other orange wines on the list, thanks to the volumes that Field Recordings produces. Though they are able to produce at scale, Field Recordings is still able to farm responsibly and make natural wines that are tough to rival. This wine, called Skins, has a mouthwatering sourness with rich apricot and orange marmalade notes.
This wine is a blend of riesling, Müller-Thurgau, gewürztraminer and pinot gris grapes that see eight days of skin contact, giving it its striking color and flavor. Similar to the other natural winemakers on the list, Day Wines prioritizes low-intervention farming, native yeast fermentations and low additions of sulfur. This wine is crisp, bright and a little bit funky, making it a perfect stunner for your next backyard get-together.
Orange wine that's bubbly? Don't mind if we do! The Austrian wine company Biokult created this pet nat (short for "pétillant naturel," a French term that roughly translates to "naturally sparkling") which is a natural wine foil to traditional Champagne or prosecco. It uses native yeasts, leaving a fresh and wild flavor and slight effervescence. It has several days of skin contact before it is sealed and left to spontaneously ferment. This wine is a great way to make a toast or celebration feel unique and special.