Orange wine is still made with grapes — not oranges — but has a deep orange-hued appearance due to its winemaking process.
Orange wine is still made with grapes — not oranges — but has a deep orange-hued appearance due to its winemaking process.
Image: 123RF / bondd

We know what you’re thinking, what is orange wine? Well, for starters, it’s still made with grapes — not oranges — but thanks to an edgy, hands-off style of winemaking, the end result is a deep orange-hued vino that typically tastes very different to regular white wines of the same grape varietal.

In fact, despite what the name and shade would have you thinking ... there’s generally a notable lack of citrus on the palate, replaced by nuttier, bolder and more savoury notes than their typically paler counterparts. Intense, rich in tannins and often possessing a kind of fruit beer sourness, you’ll want to leave all your preconceptions at the door before taking your first sip.

Made from any white wine grape the winemaker may choose, the skins and seeds are left in contact with the pressed juice for anywhere between four days to a year. This extended process allows for more colour, texture and tannin to be imbued into the wine, making them ideal food partners.

Thanks to their typically bold nature, orange wines pair well with bold dishes, including curries, slow-cooked tagines, and Korean cuisine.

SOUTH AFRICAN ORANGE WINE TO TRY:

Having grown in popularity internationally, there are still only a handful of edgy South African orange wines — most originating from the equally edgy and experimental Swartland region.

1. Intellego Elementis

Made from Chenin Blanc, the nose exudes dried herbs, pink sweets, ginger and a little spice. The palate has a weightless intensity, layers off flavour and a grippingly long finish.

Intellego Elementis.
Intellego Elementis.
Image: Supplied

2. Sadie Family Wines Palladius

A mouthful in more ways than one! Made with Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier, Verdelho, Roussanne, Marsanne, Sémillon Gris, Sémillon Blanc, Palomino and Colombard — Eben Sadie has blended together 17 different vineyards to create one seriously packed wine. Despite the variety of grapes, the end result is seamless, beautifully acidic and well worth keeping for a year or two.

Sadie Family Wines Palladius.
Sadie Family Wines Palladius.
Image: Supplied

3. Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact

Complex, brave and elegant. Aromas of red apple, fresh garden herbs and just a hint of honey lead to an integrated palate, possessing a texture and grip you can almost touch. Open a few hours before you plan to drink it, and pair alongside mature cheeses.

Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact.
Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact.
Image: Supplied

 Wade Bales is the Founder of Wade Bales Wine Co. 

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