What is orange wine?
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While you’ve heard of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wine before, orange wine may not have crossed your radar. The wine, which is mostly produced in Northeast Italy in the current day, is an ancient wine, as the first evidence of its being made was about 6,000 years ago. But everything old is new again and orange wine is becoming increasingly in vogue now, as palates are becoming more expansive and imbibers are looking for something different to pair with dinners out, or to share when friends come in.

“In our opinion, it’s the new rosè,” says Tomer Blechman, chef and owner of Miss Ada in Fort Greene, New York. “They tend to be earthier and funkier in style, especially those produced in Europe. It’s a great option for people who love the body of a red but are looking for something lighter in style, but more body than a white.”

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While orange wine is a calling card of Northeast Italy, winemakers around the world are creating their own versions, making it more readily available to consumers. Some winemakers stateside, like Channing Daughters in Long Island, N.Y., are even dabbling in the process.

However, there is a bit of confusion around this type of wine, Blechman says. The most common misconception, he notes, is that many consumers believe, at first, that the wine does actually come from oranges. While it can be slightly misleading, the term “orange wine” is not meant to indicate that the wine is made from oranges—it is simply the color that the wine turns during the winemaking process, just like a white or a red.

The Science of WineHere's How Your Favorite Wine Is Actually MadeThe wine is made with white grapes that are mashed up and left in a vessel to ferment. Depending on the flavor desired by the winemaker, this could take anywhere from months to up to a year. The wine’s color is created during this process, as the skins and seeds are left to ferment with the fruit of the grape. The process uses little to no additives like sugar or even yeast. The result? A wine with big, bold flavor. Orange wines have a slightly sour taste, likened to a dry cider or fruit beer, and nutty-tasting notes, combined with the tannins you would normally get from sipping on a drier red wine.

“Many people have the perception that orange wine will be sweet, or taste like an orange, but they are generally dry in style. Because of the skin contact of the grapes, orange wines yield more body,” Blechman says. Fermenting the wine with the skin of the grapes still attached “gives the wines more structure like you’d find in a red wine.”

While orange wine stands up to solo sipping without food, Blechman notes that the wine is best served with foods that have a bit of spice to them. His restaurant specializes in Israeli cuisine, but the wine also pairs wonderfully with Moroccan cuisine, Ethiopian cuisine, and curry dishes, which all complement the boldness of the wine. Orange wine should be served at a temperature that is slightly warmer than one would serve a white wine, to allow it to be at its most expressive, in terms of flavor.

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