Ian Brosnan, head sommelier for Ely Winebars, explains why orange wine is worth your time – and picks some of his favourites.
Orange wine – also called amber wine or skin-contact white – is essentially a white wine made the same way that reds are made – i.e. in contact with the grape skin. It is through contact with the skins that the wines obtain their distinctive colour.
This style of wine has been produced for centuries, historically in places like Georgia – which still makes some of the best – along with Slovenia and Friuli in northern Italy. These days you can find orange wines produced in pretty much every wine-growing region around the world.
The term orange can be a bit misleading, as the colours can range from pale lemon-yellow to deep amber, and the flavour varies accordingly from fresh and fruity to nutty, savoury and oxidative – sherry-like.
It is a totally different taste experience to traditional white wines, both in terms of flavour and sensation. Think of the freshness and acidity of a white with the structure and dryness of a red, and you have the idea.
Serve it cool or room temperature – the deeper the colour, the closer to room temperature you should serve it.
Orange wines are incredibly versatile, as they have the tannins to match proteins, and also the acidity needed for plant-based dishes.
Lamb is especially good, slow-cooked or stewed. They can handle spices brilliantly – think Indian curries or North African tagines. Roasted vegetables are another beautiful pairing, especially aubergine, artichokes or celeriac.
FOUR TO TRY
1. Daniel Ramos ‘El Berrakin’ Jaen, Sierra de Gredos, Spain 2019, €21/€22, Ely wine store
2. Cullen "Amber" Wilyabrup, Western Australia 2019, €35, Ely wine store
3. Calcarius ‘O’ orange, Puglia, Italy 2020 €29, Le Caveau, Kilkenny and Ely wine store
4. Gravner Ribolla Anforna, IGT Venezia Giulia, Italy 2011 €75-€80, Ely wine store, Greenman Wines, 64 Wine and Mitchell & Son