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Orange Wine?

By Gina Trippi

two glasses of orange wine and some corks

First, orange wine is not made from oranges! Orange wine is a “skin-contact” white wine. White wine grapes are fermented with the skins, which then creates its signature hue. To sum it up, Drew Summers of Advintage Distribution recently hosted the Asheville Wine Focus Group at Metro Wines saying: “Orange wine is to white grapes what rosé is to red grapes.”

But, while rosé presents the lighter side of red wine, orange wine showcases the bolder side of white wine. Orange wine is as varied as any other style of wine ranging from light and refreshing to robust with notes of nuts, citrus and tropical fruit. The deeper the color, the bolder the flavor.

Think of orange wine as a dry white wine laced with the tannins you expect from red wines. If your menu calls for a more complex wine with tannins, consider a darker orange wine that has been aged for three months or longer. “It’s a great barbecue wine,” says Drew Summers. “It’s also a flexible partner to a charcuterie board or spicy Asian and Middle Eastern fare.”

Hardly the latest fad, orange wines originated 8,000 years ago in the country of Georgia. In the beginning, orange wines were aged in clay vessels, or qvevri, buried underground until the grapes aged. While some winemakers today follow the ancient method, other winemakers age the grapes in stainless steel, oak or cement.

Metro Wines offers nearly thirty orange wines representing different countries, styles and prices. Get started with a customer favorite. The Asheville Wine Focus Group favorable reviewed Bonny Doon “Le Cigar” Orange Wine. The group found the wine an easy entry into this style and would also appealing to most people.

Bonny Doon, founded by Randall Grahm in 1983, was counterculture from the start, planting little known French grapes in California. But having made wine for decades, Grahm was initially a skeptical when it was suggested that he make an orange wine. He protested that orange wine would be “so àla mode!” Grahm speculated people were drinking orange wine to follow the trend.

“Le Cigar” is a blend of mostly Grenache Gris & Grenache Blanc. The wine is dry with aromas of fresh apricot, citrus and bergamot and a bright, fresh palate with peach, apricot, citrus peel. The group thought this wine might be great with a falafel! Drew Summers said that the central coast of California, where the Bonny Doon vineyards sit, produces some of the best Grenache Blanc in the world, France included!

As with many orange wines, the origin has a history! Apparently, there were reports of spaceships up north in France where the vineyards sat.

The authorities decided to put an end to this alien incursion. Accordingly, the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape issued a decree banning Le Cigare Volant (The Flying Cigar), named for the alleged alien Spacecraft. The original artwork on the label was created by Jules Verne! Have fun!

Gina Trippi


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