Orange wines are flavour of the month at the moment, not just in SA but in the UK, the States and all over the world. It just seems as if three colours was simply not enough….
What is an orange wine then? Resisting the urge to state the obvious, an orange wine is one made from white grapes which have been fermented using the skins as if it were a red wine.
Normal winemaking practice says that when you are making a white wine, you squash the grapes and drain off the juice from the skins before you add yeast and ferment it into alcohol. The skins are then usually thrown away and play no further part in the winemaking. When you make red wine, you ferment the juice with the skins included because those skins contain lots of the colour and tannin needed to make a red wine as well as a heck of a lot of flavour as well.
So when it comes to orange wine, it’s basically a white wine which has extra flavour, extra colour and extra tannin – not something you normally expect to find in a white wine. Because this is considered a very natural way of making wine with a history going back a few thousand years. A lot of people making this style choose not to use any additives such as SO2 (sulphur dioxide) which can sometimes lead to problems with the stability of the wine. But good examples offer lots of interest to the consumer with layer upon layer of flavour and complexity making for a really satisfying drinking experience.
One of the latest available in SA comes from Bosman Family Wines. It’s made from Grenache Blanc and is labelled ‘Fides’. The 2013 (R150 from the farm) was pumped over and punched down once each day for three weeks before going into older oak barrels. The result is a really interesting wine with discernible tannins, hints of orange peel and pineapples, creamy oak and caramelised stone fruit. Orange wines are generally recommended with food because their complex flavours can marry well with different ingredients and this wine would be great with a traditional Cape Malay Chicken Curry.
Other ‘orange’ wines you can try include Thorne & Daughters Tin Soldier Semillon and Intellego Elementis which are available from specialist retailers and selected restaurants.
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