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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
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Aug 13, 2019

We tackle a wine style that is adored in certain hip, wine "in-crowd" circles: "orange" wine, which is actually white wine made like a red -- there is long contact with the skins and seeds that give the wine a darker, orange-ish color, and VERY different flavors.

M.C. Ice and I are not big fans, but we do our best to explain the phenomenon of these whites made with skin contact.

Source: "_IGP1201" by photo by SergioVerzier is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Here are the show notes:  

  • You know it's time to cover a topic when, in Europe, the supermarket chain Aldi sells a bottle of skin-contact wine for less than $8 US! 



  • First and most importantly, it's not from oranges but from grapes!
    • Made exactly like a red but with longer maceration (the time during winemakig when the grape skins and seeds stay in contact with the juice) 
    • Reds with skin contact are red wines, reds with little contact are rosés; whites with skin contact are “orange”, without contact they are whites
      • Rosés usually undergo less than 12 hours macerating on their skins before the juice is pressed off 
      • Orange wine is the opposite of Rosé
    • Can make skin-contact wine from any grape – length of time with the skins will matter to flavor and the longer the time the more likely the wine is to mask terroir
    • Length of time varies, but maceration is LONG – days, weeks, months
  • Not all are orange so it’s better to call them “skin-contact wines.”

"Skin-Contact Pinot Gris" by jamesfischer is licensed under CC BY 2.0"Skin-Contact Pinot Gris" by jamesfischer licensed under CC BY 2.0


  • The wine takes on a darker colored/orange-ish white color, as well as phenols, pigment. 
  • Aromas: Bolder and more intense same grapes vinified as traditional white – like rose v red
  • Flavors: Nutty, oxidized flavor, very sour with a cider note. Can be bold, nutty, like old apples, sourdough bread

  • Textures: Dry, tannic, intense (not very pleasurable sometimes)

"2015 Pinot gris" by jamesfischer is licensed under CC BY 2.0"2015 Pinot gris" by jamesfischer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Different styles:

  • Lightest ones, are acidic, aromatic wines, with fresh apricot, herbs
  • Medium ones – slight oxidation, some acetone notes, old apple
  • Then full-bodied, boldly tannic, and often smoky, nutty, lots of VA, off notes



  • The Republic of Georgia: Qvervi—underground vessels sealed with beeswax or oil soaked clothes. The practice of skin contact whites likely originated here 6,000 or more years ago (the practice still goes on today, although the Greeks and Romans quickly realized the best wines were those from free-run juice/whites not macerated, which is our "traditional" style today). Rkatsiteli is the main grape
  • Listen to the Georgia Podcast!

Flag of Georgia: Wikipedia

  • Italy: Most prominent in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, often called  ramato “copper-colored” wines from Pinot Grigio but Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friulano are often used. 
    • Fruili producers who re-started the orange wine movement: Radikon, Gravner
    • Sicilian producers: Cos, I Vigneri 


Flag of Slovenia: Wikipedia

  • United States
    • Long Island: Channing Daughters, Shinn Estate
    • California: Some Sonoma


  • Others: Australia – Sauvignon Blanc, Greece, South Africa, Croatia, France


Food Pairing: Skin Contact wine is versatile with food pairing but it depends on the weight and the treatment of the wine (length of maceration, barrel v. stainless steel, etc). 

  • Serving temps – 50 – 55˚F/10˚C- 12.75˚ C -- on the warmer side


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