The revival of orange wine has reconnected vineyards with ancient modes of production – but what does it taste like?
You’re familiar with red, white and rosé, but did you know about orange wine? First-time drinkers of it often get a shock. First there’s the colour, that can range from deep amber through satsuma orange to dark pink. Don’t be surprised if it is cloudy: that is par for the course. Then there’s the taste. My first experience was of a sauvignon from Franco Terpin, an artisan winemaker in Friuli, north-east Italy. The process produces intense aromas and complex flavours, and I’d never have guessed it was made with this grape.
The difference in technique is quite simple. Normal white wine is made from the crushed juice of the grape, with the skins discarded. Orange winemakers retain the skins, as they would for red wine, and the fermenting grape juice is left to macerate with the skins, which add colour and tannin.