White Wine, Red Wine, Rosé. And... Amber (Orange) Wine?
We’re all pretty familiar with three of the four main categories of still wine: white, red, and rosé. And by familiar, I mean most of us have imbibed in a glass (or several) so we know what they’re about. Well, there is a fourth lesser known category of wine, and it so happens to be the original one: amber wine – also known as orange wine. In an overabundance of caution, amber wine/orange wine is, indeed, made from grapes, not oranges. Its namesake is not the fruit from which it’s fermented, rather it’s appearance in the bowl of a wine glass: amber/orange/copper. Like any wine, it’s actual color and color saturation will vary from varietal to varietal, vintage to vintage, region to region, etc., but the color will always be markedly different from white, red, and rosé. Naturally, this begs the question: what makes orange wine orange?
It’s a result of fermenting the must (read: grape juice) of a white wine grape along with the skins and seeds (i.e. skin-contact). To understand what this means or why it’s significant requires some context.
Skin-contact assyrtiko from crete
An amber/orange/skin-contact wine from the assyrtiko grape native to Greece.