What is orange wine or skin contact wine?

January 04, 2019

What is orange wine or skin contact wine?

An orange wine is a type of white made made by leaving the grape skins in contact with the juice, resulting in a rich, complex and sometimes unusual style of wine. This is the polar opposite to something like an everyday Pinot Grigio or Marlborough Sauvignon blanc. These popular styles of wine will be made to preserve freshness and lightness of body. The fruit will be crushed and the skins discarded, so only the pure juice gets fermented. Neither method is better or worse, there are good and bad examples of both.

The production of skin contact wines dates back thousands of years but it's only over the past few decades that we have seen a re-emergence of the style as winemakers look to create wines with the richness of a red with the freshness of a white. Historically in places such as Georgia, they would have traditionally put the wines, including the skins in clay jars called Qvevri. They would then be buried underground, and left until the required results were achieved.

We have a couple of Georgian reds which use them as part of the production method. We have also found them closer to home, our friend Ben at Tillingham Wines in Kent experiments with them, with his wine and cider. Plumpton wine college have also devoted part of their winery to explore Qvevri wines.

An orange (or skin contact) wine is all about extracting the compounds that give wines bold flavours, an orange hue and contribute to a rich mouth feel. Wines are often funky and complex with a slightly tannic texture. Whilst to some these might sound like unusual things to find in a white wine the result is an incredibly versatile, food friendly wine! The negative can be, the production method takes over and can result in a wine tasting like cider, or can overpower the wine’s sense of place.

But if you fancy trying something different, they can be great with a range of foods including cheese, Asian curries and boldly flavoured Moroccan inspired dishes.

We have the following orange or skin contact wines -

From Alsace:

Artisan Vignoble du Reveur 2016, Orange Wine

From Australia:

Alphabox & Dice Golden Mullet Fury Semillon Viognier 2015

From England:

Tillingham Qvevri Artego

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