The Drop with Olivia Evans – orange-coloured autumn
The change in season from summer to autumn is a moment to relish and reflect. Days begin to shorten and light jumpers keep exposed skin at the right temperature. I begin to crave mushrooms and soups before I can say noodle broth. A bounty of citrus is upon us, perfect for healthy doses of vitamin C before winter. But the orange beverage that I desire is made from grapes and often finds a way to pair with my mood.
Orange wine tends to also go by the name amber wine or skin-contact wine. Like any other style, these wines are works of art that need to be mastered to bring out their noblest qualities. Skin-contact wines are made by fermenting white grape varieties with their skins to provide tannin structure and coloured hues. The final result all depends on the specifications of individual varieties and the length of time the skins stay with the juice. There is no single recipe for making the perfect orange wine. Each preparation has its individuality, its affinity with ripeness, its hereditary memories to recall, its own method of telling a story.
The opulence of orange wine is what makes it ever intriguing. For the first time, it provides a strange sensation like all new tastes and experiences. For me, it has become somewhat of a go-to, the shade between the others, the bottle for every occasion where white or red just don’t seem to fit.
The first production of orange wine dates back to 6000 BC in the country of Georgia, yet the popularisation of orange wines has come from Italy. Along the culture-rich border of Slovenia is the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Producers with a reputation to this style, such as Gravner and Radikon, made the world look at orange wine in the same regard as fine wine, paving an accepting view for producers everywhere, including (and thankfully) those in Australia.
Orange wine is not natural wine, although it has become more prevalent in the natural wine movement. One would hope that if skins of grapes are going to be soaking with the juice for a time, they were farmed without sprays. The styles can be light in body, savoury, muscular or sometimes very fruity, all depending on the varieties from which they are made. The structure of an orange wine is what makes it unique and unified with so many foods, particularly those containing any kind of fat.
Herein lies a list of delicious autumnal treats that pair well with orange wines:
Roasted root vegetables: Earthy, creamy and rich. With the full body of an orange wine, it will sit well with savoury flavours in a seamless fashion.
Fire-cooked meat: A pleasure with orange wines particularly those with longer skin maceration. The angular bitterness of the wine weaves into the charcoal like textural heaven.
Ramen: Need anyone require an excuse to eat ramen let alone gulp orange wine simultaneously. Ramen is a complex and fatty dish that leaves the lips oily and the belly full. With the tannin of an orange wine it will help to cut through this richness and keep the palate fresh.
Soup: Pairing one liquid with another liquid can present an issue of textures. Orange wine’s tannic structure provides something to chew over.
As the shadows feel cooler and the light turns golden, it seems appropriate to drink with the seasons also. The most enjoyable orange wine experiences are when one enters the glass with an open mind and an adventurous palate. There is always a drop for everyone. Sometimes fresh, often savoury and but always mesmerising. Some would say, the new black.
A partial selection of producers with orange wines to adore. Drink adventurously!
Dormilona ‘Orenji’ (semillon/sauvignon blanc) – Margaret River, Western Australia
Ruggabellus ‘Sallio’ (semillon blend) – Eden Valley, South Australia
Arfion ‘Fever’ (blend) – Yarra Valley, Victoria
Inkwell ‘Tangerine’ (viognier) – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Foradori – ‘Fuoripista’ (pinot grigio) – Trentino Alto-Adige, Italy
Milton ‘Libiamo’ (field blend) – Gisborne, New Zealand
Brave New Wine ‘Gewurlitzer’ (gewürztraminer) – Great Southern, Western Australia
Our knowledgable wine friend Olivia Evans is a certified sommelier, currently responsible for curating the wine list at Brunswick Heads institution Fleet Restaurant, as well as a budding wine writer and documentarian. Look out for new editions of The Drop on the last Thursday of each month.
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