Orange wine is all the rage these days. So we wanted to talk more about how it’s made, what it tastes like, and why it’s orange! We sent a few interview questions over to Jose González, the winemaker and co-owner of Tringario Wines in Chile. And as it turns out, orange wine might be trendy, but it’s not a new style at all! Read more below!
So… what exactly is orange wine?
Orange wine is basically white wine made using the winemaking methods you would normally use for red wine – because there is skin contact during the process. (To better explain, Jose wants to share how he makes white and red wine.)
With white wine, you normally press the grapes and begin the alcoholic fermentation and aging process. There is no skin contact.
With red wine, the juice and the skins go in together, and then you put everything together in the tanks for three to four weeks. You proceed with the aging process with the wine only and no skins or seeds.
When you make orange wine, you put everything together in the tank, very similar to red wine, but instead of three to four weeks of skin contact in the tank, we go for six months. This is how the wine gets the orange color.
Read More: Our Wine Tour of Chile
Across the world (and even in the Vegan Wines shop!) orange wine is gaining popularity. Why do you think it’s so trendy these days? Is it a new style of wine or has it been around for a while?
I’m not sure why orange wine is so trendy nowadays. Orange wine is not a new method – it is actually very, very old. There are some very old orange wines made from Italian grapes. Most orange winemaking can be dated back years and years ago from northeastern Italy, along the border of Slovenia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. So this is definitely not new winemaking.
People say orange is the new rosé. But some rosé, in my opinion, can be boring. When you drink a glass of wine, you want something to be going into your mouth. If you’re drinking a very smooth-drinking wine, maybe you’re not getting what you want.
Normally, in orange wines, you have something going into your mouth. It is bigger and slightly more powerful than a rosé – so maybe that’s the answer. That’s my personal guess. It is a new varietal for an old style of old winemaking. People like to try new things.
Is orange wine always orange? Can the color vary?
When people say “orange,” it seems to be the same descriptor, but orange wines vary in color. It depends mainly on the skin contact and whether it’s in a tank as the color is lighter or if in a barrel it’s more golden. In my case, concrete tanks produce a color in the middle.
The color can be from a light rosé to a deep golden orange color when it’s more oxidated. Those are the possibilities.
What kinds of grapes can orange wine be made with? Does it matter?
You can make orange wine from any white grape you want, but people mainly use the more powerful or structured grape varieties like Moscatel, Malvasia, or Torrontes (very popular in Argentina). Plus they give you more mouth – more things going on in your mouth upon tasting the wine.
In some other wines, take Sauvignon Blanc, they are very nice, easygoing wines. Let’s say you use Sauvignon Blanc for orange winemaking. That may be wrong because that grape is a very delicate variety, very elegant. So when you want to work with an orange wine, you need to have a very powerful, strong, or structured grape variety. So it does matter because the grapes will give the orange wines more identity and will taste different.
Try Jose’s 2019 Tringario Ludopata Moscatel!
You also mention that your Tringario orange wine has a bitterness to it. Is this something that’s common to orange wines?
Yes, this is common because the bitter flavors are in the skins and mainly the seeds. So when you have more time with the skin and seeds in contact with the wine, you can have some bitter flavors. So yes, it is quite common in orange wines.
The older the wine, the less bitterness. If you have the opportunity to keep the orange wines for a couple of years, the bitter flavor will disappear. Same with the glass of wine. The first glass or two will taste more bitter than the rest of the glasses. That is because of the oxygen. When you add oxygen to the wine, the bitter flavors will disappear.
Is there anything else that’s unique to orange wine that we should know about? Is there anything you want wine drinkers to know in order to encourage them to try it?
This is not a new winemaking method or a new discovery. It is winemaking that has been there forever, but I’m just trying to put it back on the table again.
For many years, many people put time and effort into producing a clean and perfect wine, which is fine – there is nothing wrong with it. But I truly feel a perfect wine, super clean, is not real. The orange wines are an opportunity to show that wine is just crushed grapes fermented and try to keep it as simple as possible. There is no technology, there is no pressing machine, no chilling system, no filtering, no clarification – there is no nothing.
So it’s just an opportunity to show that you can use very old techniques these days and try to show old traditional winemaking with a new modern concept of labeling. Old techniques or old school ways are not gone. We can still use those techniques.
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