What Color is Your #Wine? Mine May Be Orange

I love that there are so many colors of wine. Red wine has an array of vibrant colors from soft ruby to dark garnet to brooding inky violet. White wine also offers a beautiful selection of colors from almost translucent gold to deep straw. Of course Rosé comes in more colors than I can count; very soft translucent pink to deep, penetrating fuchsia and range of salmon hues. These are all common wine colors of familiarity. But have you seen orange wine? Better yet, have you tasted orange wine?

What the heck is orange wine? Orange wine (also known as skin contact wine) occurs when white wine grapes are left in tack to ferment in a ceramic or cement tank for a few days up to a year. As the “orange” color begins to develop due to the skin contact so do the tannins. This is considered a very natural/non-interventionist wine making technique, using very little additives and at times not even yeast. Don’t expect orange wine to taste like white wine. Its traditional flavor profile include honey and apricot, along with spice notes, smokiness, and often a bitterness as well. Due to the higher tannins in orange wines over typical white wines they also pair well with heartier cuisines such as Korean, Indian, Thai, and Ethiopian.


Remember, Rosé is produced from red grapes with minimal skin contact; orange wine is produced with white grapes and extended skin contact.

The process of making orange wines is quite old. However, orange wine has become quite trendy over the last couple of years. Since orange wine is produced in Italy, our Italian Food, Wine, Travel group decided to explore this unique type of wine this month. Most orange wine in Italy can be found in the northeast, along the Slovenian boarder. Typical grapes used in this region to produce orange wine include Friulano, Pinot Grigio, and Ribolla Gialla. Other countries who produce orange wine include: Slovenia, Georgia, Austria, Australia, France, and the US.

Casata Monfort pinot grigio

Last winter I received an orange wine sample from Donkey and Goat. It was the first orange wine I had tried. Their Filigreen Farm 2014 Pinot Gris was delicious. I took it to a friend’s house for dinner and they loved it too. You can read all about it in my article “Winter Solstice with Donkey and Goat Wine.” The wine I selected for this article was really quite simple; it was the only orange Italian wine I could find in all of Dallas. The orange wine category is as new to me as it is to you so I was confused by the word Rosé in the name of the wine. How can a Rosé be made out of Pinot Grigio? After reading the winemaking techniques I am not sure this wine qualifies as an orange wine, but it was the best I could do so here you go:

Casata Monfort pinot grigio3Casata Monfort 2014 Rosé Pinot Grigio, Vigneti delle Dolomiti: this wine poured a soft tangerine orange in the glass (it was definitely not pink); bright aromas of citrus zest, white peaches, apricots, melon, and white floral notes; soft texture on the palate with round acidity, mouthwatering, well-structured, long, elegant finish, really nice wine, no tannins or sharpness at all; 13% ABV, SRP $18.99. It really was a lovely wine and paired beautifully with dinner but it was not rich or tannic, tasted like a really flavorful Pinot Grigio, which is a bit unusual for a wine that more often than not lacks flavor.

casata monfort pinot grigio4

Winemaking method: Cold maceration for approximately one night in contact with the skin in stainless steel press-machine in a completely sealed environment. Then white grape wine-making technique proceeds followed by alcoholic fermentation at a supervised temperature with selected yeasts. Further steel refinement. Food pairing suggestions: Fish, white meats, thick soups, egg-based dishes and pasta. Excellent as an aperitif.

I paired this wine with a Chilean sea bass simply prepared, topped with minced shallots and garlic, salt and pepper, EVOO, and a drizzle of white wine, then roasted at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Served with the sea bass was artichoke pesto ravioli and oven roasted green cauliflower. It was a delicious meal and really paired well with the flavorful wine.

sea bass ravioli cauliflower

sea bass dinner with casata monfort pinot grigio

Let’s see if my fellow #ItalianFWT friends had better luck finding an orange wine:

Have you had Italian orange wine? Did you like it? Have you had orange wine from other countries? Please join us to discuss the orange wine phenomena this morning at 10CST on Twitter using #ItalianFWT.

My Song Selection: I did not understand this wine any more than I understand this song but for some reason I like both!

Get your own bottle of Casata Monfort 2014 Rosé Pinot Grigio, Vigneti delle Dolomiti and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!


9 responses to “What Color is Your #Wine? Mine May Be Orange”

  1. I do like Pinot Grigio, I wonder if I could tolerate one like this? And I LOVE that DNCE song! Whenever it comes on the radio I just start tap-tap-tapping away on my steering wheel! 🙂

  2. I have had and like Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris but don’t think I have ever had orange wine although I have heard of it and know I could find it here, now I will have to try it. Will see if Donkey and Goat is available here, I love the song, it’s silly but fun and so catchy.

  3. That dish sounds right up my alley. Love the selection of ravioli. Any great recipes for chilean sea bass you recommend? I’d love to try making it one day.

    • Thanks. I don’t use a recipe. It is such a delicate and delicious fish I prefer to pan saute or oven roast with just salt, pepper, eVOO and a touch of butter. Sometime add browned butter hazelnut sauce or pesto but the fish is beautiful on its own.

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