When it comes to wine, we used to think of it in two categories: white and red. Then we became smitten with rosé, and eventually an entire rainbow of wine colors out there. One color in the rainbow may be the perfect bottle for your fall drinking: orange. For more on orange wine and why you should check it out, we talked to Katie Owen, wine director at Winc, a direct-to-consumer wine club that sells their own version of the apricot-hued drink.
So what exactly is orange wine? Owen says it's "kind of like the opposite of rosé." But rosé fanatics shouldn't fret — it's the opposite of rosé via the production process, not taste. Technically, rosé is made from red grapes treated like white grapes, and orange wine is made from white grapes treated like red grapes. Red wine gets its color from skin contact from the red grapes. White wine comes from white grapes, but, typically, there is no skin contact. That is unless you want orange wine.
Also called "skin-contact whites," orange wines ferment with the skin of the white grapes, giving it a different taste as well as a slightly deeper hue. In terms of the palate, that means that the white wine becomes a lot more like a red, with more body and structure, which is a fancy way of saying it has more tannins and acids. That's because tannins, which often give red wines a fuller mouth feel, are found in the skin of the grape. Owen tells Refinery29, "It wouldn't be far fetched to say that you could blind taste one of these skin contact whites and mistake it for a light red."
As far as pairings, because it is a bolder white, Owen recommends treating it similar to a red and serving it with everything from poultry to duck and lamb. "Personally, I love to drink orange wine with cured meats and stronger cheeses like aged gouda, sharp cheddar, or Camembert," Owen recommends in our interview. In other words, it's the perfect way to drink a chilled wine with some of our favorite fall comfort foods. We never thought we'd be so glad to find the "opposite of rosé" in a drink.