Discover the world of orange wine

WWMD What would Margaret drink?

Margaret Pearman is a certified sommelier under the Court of Master Sommeliers and is responsible for curating the award-winning wine list at Charlie’s Coastal Bistro. Here are her sipping suggestions for August:

Orange wine may not be what you expect, as it doesn’t actually contain oranges. However, its striking hue bears a resemblance to the fruit. Orange wine embraces an approach unlike conventional winemaking, where oxygen is seen as the enemy. Minimal-intervention winemaking allows the juice to express itself without the addition of sulfites or other additives. Essentially, orange wine is another type of white wine, where the grape skins and seeds remain in contact with the juice for extended periods, ranging from four hours to over a year. This contact imparts the deep orange color, while the absence of additives leads to a slight oxidation, resulting in a unique nutty flavor. The range of orange wines is extensive, showcasing a dried fruit character and a robust tannin structure from skin contact, making them an excellent match for bold flavors and spices.

The history of orange winemaking is fascinating and rooted in necessity. Dating back over 6,000 years, archeologists have discovered clay vessels called qvevri (“Kev-ree”) in Eastern Europe, which were sealed with stones and beeswax and buried underground to maintain consistent temperatures. This ancient technique has been practiced in regions such as Georgia, Slovenia, France and Italy. In recent years the resurgence of orange wine making has gained momentum, captivating wine enthusiasts. Embrace the opportunity to explore these wines with an open mind. Here are two recommendations that I find particularly enjoyable:

Nine Oaks Khikhvi [xix-wi]: Crafted from a rare indigenous varietal, this orange wine exhibits a light color and a full tannin profile. It delights the palate with distinct flavors of dried apricot and green tea. For a perfect pairing, consider a Lowcountry boil or Thai curry.

Anne Pichon Sauvage Vin de France: This standout example spends just five days in contact with the grape skins, yet it stands out as one of the best in its category. It’s a 70/30 blend of Roussanne and Sauvignon blanc, offering crisp acidity, hints of citrus peel and subtle nuttiness. It serves as an excellent starter orange wine and pairs beautifully with a Nom Tok or Nom Sod salad.

Indulge in the captivating world of orange wine, and let your taste buds explore its unique flavors and textures.

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