Low intervention, orange wines are London’s new favourite wine trend. This article will teach you a little about them and how to pair these complex and flexible wines with a range of dishes!
To explain what orange wines are, we’ll start with the basics. Firstly, an important note: orange wines are made with grapes and not oranges contrary to popular(ish) belief! Now, think about white wines – these are made with white grapes, fermented after the skin and seeds of the grape are removed. Orange wines are made using white grapes with the skins left on which are then macerated in the fermenting process. This skin-on process is also used to produce red wine (with red grapes). Using skin-contact production with white grapes creates a beautiful amber hue reminiscent of a fiery sunset with the colour darkening as the wine ferments for longer. The ‘skin-contact’ fermentation allows the bold flavours from the skin to penetrate the wine giving them complex and unusual flavour profiles.
As we are sure you can imagine, the flavour profile of low-intervention wines is as varied as those of your whites and reds. However, if we were to generalise, they are often funky with sharp acidic notes. The flavours are more rugged than their white wine counterparts and despite the colour and grape variety, orange wines have a similar mouthfeel to that of more full-bodied red wines. However, these low-intervention wines are often served chilled and are perfect for the warmer weather.
The wines are considered low-intervention wines with little additives and are often unfiltered. They may be produced on biodynamic vineyards that do not use fertilisers and rely on traditional farming methods. Yes, a wine that is good for you and the environment!
Here at Nomad Cooks, we can suggest a starting point to your orange wine adventure - it is by no means an exhaustive list and if you find a bottle you prefer, we will never tire of new pairings! Here are two great pairings to show how the orange wines can work with a meal, preferably on a warm summer's evening with the sky turning the same shade as your glass amongst the chatter of well-fed, old friends.
Ancre Hill Orange Wine 2020 available at Libation Wine
This wine has benefitted from whole bunch maceration for 30-50 days giving notes of prickly pear and acidic tangerine. The deep funky notes of the orange wine cut through the richness of meat dishes making it the ideal pairing with chef Numra Siddiqui’s heavy-hitting and flavourful lamb shank stew.
Valentina Passalacqua Calcarius Nu Litr Orange available at Gnarly Vines
Sold by the litre, this orange wine is perfect for sharing with friends over a Nomad dinner party. From Puglia, Italy, this wine has notes of sweet apple and orange blossom with a honey like palette. This wines flavour profile would pair well with Lesley Farrow’s homemade crab & prawn ravioli in a prawn bisque. The balanced flavours pair brilliantly with the natural sweetness of the fresh prawns used in Lesley’s dish.
Nomad Rachael Leach, private chef and former wine buyer, gives her views on the perfect pairing for orange wines.
“Orange wines containing gorgeous aromatics that are often laden with herbs and quince pair perfectly with delicately spiced and intricately complex flavours of the Middle East. Think harissa spiced lamb mince skewers laden onto flatbreads smothered in hummus and herbs or smokey charred aubergine, split in two and loaded with spiced chickpeas, tahini and pomegranate. For any wine gastronome worth their salt these are difficult dishes to navigate – spice, subtlety from the almost bland but rich aubergine, sweet fruit and high-toned herbs – but an orange wine can straddle these all providing delicacy but with just enough punch to be heard above the glorious cacophony.
Prawn x Testalonga Stay Brave 2021
I’ve been lucky enough to taste a number of the brilliant Craig Hawkins wines and they always pack a serious punch, so I’ve chosen this bold, spicy, super simple prawn dish to perfectly balance those citrus and ginger notes that come from this gorgeous orange Chenin Blanc. If you aren’t a seafood fan then swap in chicken for an equally delicious take and pop it all on the Braai for the full South African vibe.”
This is fantastic with some par boiled, then barbecued new potatoes and a side of radicchio and orange salad.
Nomad chef Rachael Leach trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine and has experience as a wine buyer as well as cooking for a whole range of events from small intimate fine dining dinner parties to canapé parties and more informal buffet-style events.
Book Chef Rachael for your next dinner or browse other private chefs on Nomad Cooks for the perfect dinner courses to pair with your next beautiful bottle of orange wine!