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Depending on who you ask, orange wines are on the rise, possibly poised to be the new rosé. New York-based sommelier and natural wine expert Doreen Winkler, who also founded orange wine club Orange Glou, is among those leading the charge. But what are orange wines, exactly?
"Orange wines are made with white grapes but in a way typical for reds, where the juice stays in contact with the skins after pressing, resulting in hues ranging from pale straw to golden to very dark orange—hence the name," Winkler says. "Wines have been made this way for millennia in Georgia but have recently become popular among winemakers and wine drinkers worldwide."
Orange wines are made all over the world from a diverse variety of white wine grapes. The exact hue and tannin profile of the wine depends on both the grape varieties used, as well as the amount of time that the juice spends macerating with the skins. For less grippy, more “white wine” style orange wines, look to those with paler hues and less skin contact. For a flavor-packed, more textured option, look to those with darker hues. Additionally, orange wines are made in both dry and sparkling styles. While most are dry, there are a good number of examples with residual sugar.
Here, we share our favorite bottles of orange wine to try this season and beyond.
Best Overall: Field Recordings SKINS Orange Wine
What do buyers say? 1,900+ Vivino reviewers rated this product 3.9 stars.
Eric Hsu, co-founder of Coast and Valley wine bar in Brooklyn, New York, is partial to this blend from California's Central Coast. “Winemaker Andrew Jones has been killing it in Paso Robles since 2007 with single vineyard site wines showcasing a sense of place and personality,” Hsu says. “And with a wine with an as-clear-as-it-gets name called SKINS, Andrew claims it'll make anyone a believer in non-red wine. Honey and white flowers with notes of apricot and orange make this wine incredibly fun and crushable.”
When we first recommended the 2019 bottling, Field Recordings used a mix of Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. The 2021 version is still primarily those three varieties with Albarino, Vermentino, Verdelho, and Albillo Mayor added in. Jones recommends pairing this award-winning wine with some funky cheese, like a bleu, or a hearty duck sausage.
Region: Paso Robles, California, USA | Variety: 43% Chenin Blanc, 18% Pinot Gris, 16% Riesling, 13% Albarino, 5% Vermentino, 4% Albillo Mayor, 2% Verdelho | Tasting notes: Dried apricot, orange zest, stone fruit, almond skin
Best Budget-Friendly: Gerard Bertrand Orange Gold 2020
Produced by Languedoc winemaking giant Gerard Bertrand, Orange Gold pays homage to the great skin-macerated wines of The Republic of Georgia, first produced over 6,500 years ago. Bertrand’s expression shows a fresh and easy-drinking side of skin-contact wine, rendering this bottle perfect for both novices and long-standing fans of orange wine alike.
Produced from an organically-farmed blend of Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Mauzac, and Muscat, this aromatic wine shows vibrant flavors of candied fruits, orange blossom, and white flowers, which harmoniously lead to a pleasant, slightly bitter finish that promises to excite the taste buds. The wine’s structure and light, well-integrated tannins make it the perfect pairing for pre-dinner appetizers, Asian favorites, or slightly spicy Indian cuisine.
Region: Languedoc, France | Variety: Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Mauzac, Muscat | Tasting notes: Candied fruit, orange blossom, white flowers
Best Food-Friendly: Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio
A lightweight, slightly effervescent Greek wine with gentle stone-fruit flavors, crisp acidity, and a hint of sweetness, Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio works for a wide range of wine-drinking scenarios. It chills nicely without compromising its flavor, so it works as a beach wine or as a patio wine. It has enough body and substance to pair with food, so it can accompany you to a BBQ potluck or seafood boil. Finally, its relatively low ABV makes it easy to enjoy all throughout a day and night of entertaining without overdoing it (and suffering an inevitably-rough next morning).
Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio is only available in 500mL bottles in the United States, as opposed to the standard 750mL size of a wine bottle. This gives it an advantage among first-time buyers who want to sample orange wine without committing to a full-sized bottle, but if you’re planning to serve it at an event involving more than 2-3 people, you’ll need to take this bottle size into account.
Region: Ioannia, Greece | Variety: Debina, Vlahiko | Tasting notes: Apple butter, orange marmalade, cinnamon
Most Funky: Icaro Nemico Bianco Vulcanico
Icaro’s vineyard can be found in the Castelli Romani DOC region of Italy, which is just southeast of Rome, nestled among the Colli Albani hills. This location gives Icaro a volcanic terroir, which brings a plethora of intriguing flavor notes to the grapes grown there and, ultimately, to the wines made with those grapes. Icaro’s Nemico Bianco Vulcanico, a skin-contact white wine made with the Trebbiano and the Malvasia di Candia Aromatica grapes, boldly and deliciously maximizes the mineral-heavy, flinty notes provided by the volcanic soil.
In addition to its minerality, Icaro Nemico Bianco blends bright citrus flavors, tropical aromas, hints of yeast, and an earthy, slightly bitter funk. The result is a wine that has enormous stage presence right from the first nosing, and each sip opens your tastebuds up to a new facet or dimension. Icaro Nemico Bianco has a medium body and more intensity than a classic porch-pounder, and its zingy fruit profile makes it especially enjoyable for the wine drinker who gravitates toward nuance and complexity.
Region: Lazio, Italy| Variety: Malvasia di Candia, Trebbiano | Tasting notes: Lemon peel, celery, smoke
Best Fall to Winter Orange Wine: Day Wines Vin de Days l'Orange
While orange wines are made with white grapes and therefore fall under the “white wine” umbrella, their skin-on fermentation provides them with more body and more robust flavor profiles than many other whites. Therefore, there’s absolutely no need to limit orange wines to poultry, fish, and vegetable pairings. Versatile orange wines like Day Wines Vin de Days l’Orange from Oregon can accompany everything from grilled shrimp or fruit salad to smoked brisket or a red-sauce pasta.
Vin de Days l’Orange is predominantly made with the Riesling grape, which many wine drinkers associate with sweet or off-dry whites. However, dry Riesling boasts a formidable level of acidity, and when it’s fermented with its skins on, this grape (alongside other Germanic grapes like Müller-Thurgau and Gewurztraminer) can produce a wine with a smooth mouthfeel, an engaging flavor blend, and a knack for pairing with just about anything you feel like serving. Vin de Days l’Orange is described by one Vivino commenter as “fatter and richer than most orange wines I’ve had”, and that fuller texture allows it to stand up to heavier entrees, as does its slightly-funky backbone and bitter, savory, and tart notes.
Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA | Variety: Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris | Tasting notes: Tropical fruit, kumquat, orange zest, white tea
Best Georgian: Shumi Iberiuli Khikhvi
Like Winkler notes, the recent trend of making skin-on white wines isn’t remotely new in the nation of Georgia. There, orange wines (or “amber wines”, as Georgians prefer to call them) are an inextricable part of the cultural tradition. Back in the day, Georgian winemakers made amber wines in clay vessels known as qvevri, but while today’s amber wine is often fermented in wood or stainless steel barrels, the ancient commitment to creating warm and compelling flavor profiles prevails.
For an orange wine that is in fact made in a qvevri and that, in terms of flavor and body, exemplifies what Georgian amber wines have to offer, try Shumi Iberiuli Khikhvi’s 2018 vintage. Made with the dry Khikhvi grape (a white grape native to Georgia), this wine features plush stone fruit notes like white peach and nectarine, along with a citrusy, grapefruit-esque tang, hints of minerality, herbaceous and floral aromas, and a bracing bitter finish that grounds the other flavors in an elegant and satisfying way.
Region: Kakheti, Georgia | Variety: Khikhvi | Tasting notes: White peach, nectarine, grapefruit rind, dried herbs
Best Easy to Find: COS Pithos Bianco
Founded in 1980, COS is the brainchild of three Sicilian winemakers with a vision to create top-quality, low-intervention wines from Sicily. Four decades later, this pioneering brand remains at the helm of affordable natural wine and has since inspired countless local producers along the way. (Note: COS is an acronym of the founders' last names: Cilia, Occhipinti, and Strano).
Pithos is COS’ answer to affordable, skin-contact wine produced in a responsible way. Crafted in the heart of Ragusa, this varietal Grecanico is produced from biodynamically-farmed fruit and vinified in terracotta vessels. Savory, floral, and easy to drink, this relatively low-ABV (11.5%) wine shows flavors of yellow stone fruit, dried herbs, and saline. Serve chilled.
Region: Sicily, Italy | Variety: 100% Grecanico | Tasting notes: Yellow stone fruit, dried herbs, saline
Best California: Stolpman Vineyards Love You Bunches Orange 2021 Love You Bunches Orange 2021
Stolpman Vineyards has been at the forefront of Santa Barbara winemaking since 1990. This family-owned-and-operated business has been highlighting the often overlooked potential of wines from the Ballard Canyon AVA, which officially received appellation status in 2013. The ‘Love You Bunches’ range of wines began with the estate’s carbonic Sangiovese back in 2016, a wine that stole the show at winemaker Pete Stolpman’s wedding.
Since then, the lineup has expanded to include this skin-contact blend of Pinot Gris, Orange Muscat, Sémillon, and Gewurztraminer, produced using whole grape bunches (hence the cuvée’s name) during fermentation. Fruit for this wine is organically farmed, gently pressed, and vinified in steel without any added sulfur. Medium-bodied and bright, the wine shows flavors of melon, papaya, citrus rind, and hints of savory spice on the finish.
Region: Santa Barbara, California, USA | Variety: Pinot Gris, Orange Muscat, Sémillon, Gewurztraminer | Tasting notes: Melon, papaya, citrus rind, savory spice
Best Organic: Sybille Kuntz Estate Mosel Organic Orange Riesling Trocken 2020
Sybille Kuntz has spearheaded her family estate for over 30 years. A long-time pioneer of organic and biodynamic farming, Kuntz’s estate began farming organically back in 1990 (certified in 2013), then achieved Demeter certification (biodynamics) in 2013. Based in the heart of the Mosel, her 18 hectares of vines average between 45 and 80 years in age, leading to small amounts of concentrated, healthy fruit.
Kuntz first began producing her Organic Orange Riesling back in 2017. Fruit comes from biodynamically-farmed, 50-year-old vines rooted in blue slate soils. Grapes are carefully harvested by hand, de-stemmed, and crushed in open tanks, followed by six months of maceration / spontaneous fermentation. The wine then ages in large (1,000L) oak foudres for six months prior to being bottled unfined/unfiltered. On the palate, flavors of orange pith, dried apricots, grapefruit rind, and sweet spice dominate the wine’s grippy, complex, and vibrantly textured palate. Riesling skeptics, this unique side promises to open your mind to a whole new world. (Note: Trocken means dry in German. Riesling bottles boasting this word are bottled without any residual sugar.)
Region: Mosel, Germany | Variety: Riesling | Tasting notes: Orange pith, dried apricot, grapefruit rind, sweet spice
The best orange wine is the Field Recordings SKINS Orange Wine due to the supple hints of florals and honey. It goes perfectly with a fatty cut of meat or aromatic cheese, making it the perfect pair for a charcuterie board. If you're looking for something you can chill for a refreshing happy hour glass, pick up the Domaine Glinavos Paleokerisio.
What to Look for When Buying Orange Wine
The tones and notes of orange wines offer a varied selection that is sure to please anyone's palate. Choose what you like: full bodied, floral, sweet, citrusy, or bold. Stronger, more tannic ones have had a longer processing time of skin contact, while lighter, more delicate ones have have a shorter processing time. It is all up to what your taste buds enjoy.
Most orange wines are considered natural wines, meaning no yeast or preservatives have been added. Natural winemaking has been around for a long time; the object is to have as little intervention as possible, allowing the wine to chart its own course. When looking for a bottle of orange wine, check the labels, and don't hesitate to ask the wine shop about it before purchasing.
A lot of orange wines are natural wines, so you would think that many of them wouldn't contain sulfites. This is not true, as there are at least low amounts of sulfites in all wines because sulfites form naturally during the fermentation process. It is the sulfites added by the winemakers that you should be aware of and check the labels for.
What does orange wine taste like?
The taste of orange wine can vary, depending on the time spent macerating on the skins and the type of grape used. These wines can be citrusy, dry, robust, full bodied, or sweet, which is why they have become so popular. They can be switched up for white, rosé, or red wines depending on the bottle of orange wine you select. And if you don't like one kind of orange wine, try another variety, as they all have a different taste.
What foods does orange wine pair well with?
Orange wines are so versatile; they go well with just about any type of dish or appetizer. Select a bold, full-bodied orange wine to go with curry or tagines, or a light, delicate one to enjoy on a warm summer day. Orange wines go well with seafood, fall dishes, cheese, pizza, salty foods, roasted dishes, barbecues, and more.
What's the proper temperature to serve orange wine?
Orange wines should be served around 55 F. They are served cooler than red wine, but a bit warmer than white. However, you might find you enjoy a dessert orange wine chilled to a colder temperature.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Céline Bossart has been tracing the rise of orange wines since the early days of her career as a wine and spirits writer. Is it the new rosé? Debatable. But you’ll certainly find her reaching for it all summer long.
Taylor Tobin is a wine and beverage journalist with bylines in publications like Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Eater, and Wine4Food. She has adored orange wine since the first time she tasted a qvevri-fermented version at a Georgian restaurant, and she’s an ardent shopper at wine stores that specialize in orange wines and unfiltered natural wines, like Orange Glou in Manhattan, Stranger Wines in Brooklyn, and Sunrise Wine Shop in Austin.
Vicki Denig is a wine, spirits, and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. Her writing regularly appears in major industry publications, including Liquor.com, WineSearcher, Decanter, and beyond. Vicki also works with a prestigious Rolodex of monthly clients, including Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman & Co, Corkbuzz, Provignage, and beyond. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine. When not writing, Vicki enjoys indoor cycling classes and scoping out dogs to pet in her local parks.