Wine Words Demystified: Orange Wine

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus – Wine Words Demystified!  This week’s term is Orange Wine...

According to Ray Isle of Food & Wine magazine…

Orange wines“—a current favorite of hipster sommeliers—are white wines that are kept at length on the grape skins as they are made. One result: their resistance to oxygen is increased, so they stay fresh longer when opened.

In other words, an “orange wine” is a white wine made applying red wine techniques.  Rather than the typical white wine process of pressing the juice off the skins, the juice is allowed to macerate, like you would when you make a red wine.  And instead of keeping the process sealed from oxygen, you allow the fermenting fluid to breathe.

Because the skins remain in contact with the juice during the fermentation process, the wine takes on qualities you’d normally associate with a red wine: tannins, structure and fuller body that doesn’t come from aging in oak, or high alcohol content.

“Orange” wine – Image courtesy of SFGate Photo: Craig Lee, Special To The Chronicle / SF

The practice of making wines using this process dates back thousands of years to  Eurasian wine producing countries of Armenia & Georgia.  In more recent years, the epicenter for orange wine is Friuli, Italy.  However, there is a nascent insurgency against the traditional method of making white wines afoot in Oregon, and California.  

From what I’ve been able to discern, the most common grape used to make orange wine has been Pinot Gris, but it also being made from white Rhone varietals such as Marsanne and Roussanne.  And while the wines are commonly an orange hue, they may be other colors such as a salmon.  So the name orange wine has more to do with the process than the color per se.

Right now, orange wines are a niche category; mostly the province of sommeliers, and wine geeks.  It will be interesting to see how far the orange wine movement will go.

I’m looking forward to trying my first orange wine soon.  I won a bottle of wine from my cousin on a bet when my Forty-Niners crushed the Monsters of the Midway (Da Bears).  I went with a bottle of 2011 Donkey & Goat Stone Crusher Roussanne.

Have you tried an “orange” wine?  If so, what did you think?


#SundaySupper Labor Day Cookout Food And Wine Pairings

I always have mixed feelings about Labor Day weekend.  The last few years, our friends and neighbors have hosted a Labor Day Cookout.  They always throw one heck of a party.  But, at the same time Labor Day heralds the end of the summer, my favorite season of the year.  Well, at least we go out with a bang!

Speaking of going out with a bang, check out this week’s #SundaySupper menu.  It’s dynamite!  My recommended wine pairing are italicized.  Cheers!

Labor Day Cookout at the Ongs

Yum…Labor Day Cookout at the Ong’s – My friend and neighbors

Pair these sensational starters, snacks, salads, and sides with sparkling wine.  A sparkling wine will instantly give your cookout a celebratory feel, and sparkling wine is one of the most versatile wines for pairing with foods.  A Blanc de Noir style sparkling wine would make a great match for this diverse palate of flavors. A Blanc de Noir is made with dark-skinned grapes used to make red wines like Pinot Noir , Pinot Meunier and/or other grapes.  I recommend the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir.  Its red fruit and vanilla aromas are followed by creamy red fruit and citrus flavors.  

Pair these delectable dishes with a cookout favorite – Zinfandel!  I recommend the 2010 McManis Family Vineyard Zinfandel.  It shows plenty of ripe red fruits, vanilla and a bit of spice.

Pair these main and side dishes with a red Rhône blend.  What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.  Such is the case with my recommended wine the 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Contra Old Vine Field Blend.  It’s a rich blend of Carigane, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah loaded with dark fruit, spice, and a bit of smoke aromas and flavors.

Pair these main and side dishes with a white Rhone blend. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas.  It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.  It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate.  It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner. 
Pair these main and side dishes with a Pinot noir. Try one from New Zealand, where they make great Pinot Noir that can often be found for better value than Pinot Noir from California, or France.  Look for the Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir.  It’s full of ripe cherry, and berry aromas and flavors with a complementary spice component.  It’ll take a chill well too! Plop it in ice water for 10-15 minutes and serve.



Don’t forget about desserts when it comes to pairing wine with foods.  A wine with dessert is a great way to cap off a meal!

Pair these desserts with a sweet Moscato wine.  It’s a great match for fruit-themed dessert.  Try the 2011 Redtree Moscato with its slightly spritzy nectarine and rose petal flavors.

Pair these desserts with a Port-style wine. I say “Port-style” because true Port is only made in Portugal. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t get a tasty one made here in the good ole USA!  I recommend the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port.  It has sweet dark berry, chocolate, black currant, and toffee aromas and flavors and is oh so smooth! 
Frozen desserts are a challenge to pair with wine, primarily because the coolness numbs one’s taste buds. But if you remember the golden rule of pairing desserts with wine, you’ll be fine. The golden rule is that the wine must be sweeter than the dessert.  Here we go...
Pair the following two desserts with a Madeira, a fortified wine that comes from the small rugged volcanic island of the same name off the coast of Africa (though it’s a province of Portugal).  Look for Blandy’s 5-year old Malmsey Madeira. It an entry-level Madeira with aromas of toffee, raisins, and nuts with rich, full-bodied, honeyed flavors, and a beautifully balanced acidity. 
  • Ice Cream Sandwich Cake by Comfy Cuisine – Pair with a Pedro Ximenez (“PX”).  PX is a ribald sweet sherry with an acidic backbone from Spain. Look for the Lustau Pedro Ximenz “San Emilio”
  • Blueberry Lemon Whoopie Pies for a Holiday Cookout #SundaySupper by In the Kitchen with KP – Pair with the Yalumba Muscat Museum Reserve, a dessert wine from Australia with rose petal, ginger and orange peel aromas, and rich raisined fruit, and spice flavors.

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite cookout recipes!

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us throughTweetChat!

We’d also love to feature your Cookout recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!