It was during a lunch at Virtus, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, that our eyes gazed upon it. There it sat in the middle of the wine list and immediately aroused our curiosity. "It" was orange wine, a beverage that has been raging for a few months in the trendy restaurants of the French capital.
Contrary to what one might think, orange wine is not a far-fetched invention - unlike blue wine. Its creation dates back several millennia and its method of preparation is not strange.
Fine Dining Lovers explains it all below.
HOW IS ORANGE WINE MADE?
Regarded as a 'trendy wine', orange wine actually dates back to antiquity, when it was consumed mainly in the Caucasus region. Obviously not made from oranges themselves, orange wine is a type of white wine made by leaving the rest of the grape in contact with the juice to give the finished product a deep orange colour. This differs from methods of making white wine, in which the rest of the grape is removed, but is similar to some red wines in which the red grape skins are left in contact with the grapes during fermentation.
"Concretely, the operation consists in fermenting white grapes with their solid parts, namely skins and sometimes even stalks," says Pierre Citerne, member of the tasting committee of La Revue du Vin de France. "The structure of the orange wine is therefore a subtle blend of tannins and minerals, at the crossroads of white wine and red wine," adds French newspaper L'Express.
WHAT DOES ORANGE WINE TASTE LIKE?
Orange wine is a fairly fresh wine with low acidity. It is often given a citrus aroma with roasted notes. All in all, orange wines are rather digestible and go well with a meal.
WHERE TO DRINK ORANGE WINE?
Originally from the Caucasus, orange wine is now mostly produced in northern Italy and Slovenia. Today, there are also some vineyards in France, on the side of Languedoc, Jura, Loire and Savoie.
Orange wine is also gaining popularity in New Zealand, the United States and South Africa. While some French restaurants now offer orange wine a la carte, it is still mostly popular in Eastern Europe
This wine varietal is even honoured by its own festival. In 2015, the Orange Wine Festival was established in Izola, Slovenia. In 2016, the event was celebrated in Vienna (Austria).
Orange wines tend to have a bold, powerful flavour that makes them a good match with foods that are also bold, such as curries, North African cuisine and fermented foods. Their high level of tannins and pronounced bitterness also sees them pair well with red meats and even some fish.