We at Hennings are never afraid of looking to the future and discovering new and exciting things. In this case, if I may use the phrase of a recently merged telecoms giant, ‘…the future’s orange’! Yes, the future is here and it’s orange wines.
For those that have heard of this stuff before, you’ll know that its usual home is in the trendiest of trendy London hipster joints, with a beard and several tattoos being a pre-requisite to entry. However and to the tune of many a chuckle it is becoming increasingly more main-stream. So for those of you that haven’t heard of them before orange wines are essentially white wines made in a way that you would a red wine – basically keeping the skins in contact with the wine for varying periods of time.
The resulting wine has a much more intense nose and palate with much more texture, even tangible tannins in some cases, and the colour of the wine (that comes primarily from the skins in every wine) develops an orange colour. The colour depends on how long the wine has spent in contact with the skins, and in the case of the two we have decided on, ranging from a golden hue to vivid orange.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you there are some truly breathtakingly awful examples out there and we tasted a couple of heinous ones very recently including one that tasted like Deep Heat! The sarcastic undertones of the often heard words ‘you have a tough job’ never rang truer than in this particular tasting. As we soldiered on we came across two that we thought were actually really very good, but in very different ways.
Our first choice is a Pinot Grigio, but this is no ordinary Pinot Grigio and I suggest that if you were after a Pinot Grigio in the first place you’ll be more confused than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles when you uncork it. This hails from Abruzzo in Italy and is essentially a ‘beginners’ orange wine whereby it has been left on the skins for just enough time to develop a bit of texture and a bit of colour along with some intensity on the nose and palate. Chill this down, pair it with some light food, perhaps some spicy food and you are on to a winner! It will certainly generate conversation around your dining table!
The next offering is from Austria and is made from a grape called Roter Veltliner, an obscure ancient variety that usually makes powerfully intense white wines. The vivid orange colour should not fool you, this is not a sweet wine. It is intense, peppery and spicy. Those of you brave enough to try it will be confused no doubt, as it is unlike any wine you will have tasted before and as such cannot be directly compared to any other. It is fruity and powerful with a nice level of acidity and soft tannins. The fact it looks so whacky in the glass should be considered an added bonus. Jokes aside it is however great for matching with richer dishes as it can stand up to most things without the need to resort to a bottle of red. When a white or red could work I would urge you to go straight down the middle with an orange wine instead.
Wine can be incredibly varied and interesting and I think it’s worth celebrating that people are pushing the boundaries in order for us to try something new. Yes, you may get some odd looks from those you’re serving it to, but I think that’s part of the fun! You may also think it’s awful but I’ll let you decide for yourselves.