Orange wine, despite its recent surge in popularity, has roots that stretch back thousands of years, primarily in the Caucasus region, today’s Georgia, where it was originally produced. The resurgence of this ancient method has reintroduced wine enthusiasts to a distinct and intriguing style of winemaking.

The term “orange wine” might suggest a connection to the citrus fruit, but it actually refers to the color of the wine, which ranges from a deep amber to a vibrant orange hue. This unique color is the result of a prolonged maceration process where the juice of white grapes is left in contact with their skins, seeds, and sometimes stems. This technique is similar to that used in the production of red wines but is quite unconventional for whites. Typically, white wines are pressed off their skins immediately after crushing, but with orange wines, the skins remain in contact for days, weeks, or even months.

This skin-contact method imparts not only the vivid color but also adds a layer of complexity to the wine’s flavor profile. The result is a robust wine that combines the refreshing acidity of a white with the body and tannins more typical of a red. This process also contributes to a higher antioxidant content and often results in a wine that can age well.

Historically, these wines were stored in large clay vessels called qvevri, which were buried underground to maintain a constant temperature. This method is still used in parts of Georgia and has been key to the revival of traditional winemaking techniques in the modern era.

Today, orange wine has found a niche among sommeliers and wine aficionados who appreciate its bold flavors and historic production methods. Winemakers in Italy, Slovenia, and beyond have embraced this ancient technique, experimenting with different grape varieties and modern twists. Orange wine represents not just a revival of an old method, but a bridge between the past and the present, offering a unique tasting experience that challenges conventional wine categories.