Have you ever heard of orange wine?

Durham has an amazing little wine bar downtown called Bar Brunello. The owner, Esteban, is the real deal, having received a “Rising Star Sommelier Award” from the New York-based culinary magazine StarChefs and having trained with the International Sommelier Guild. It was here that Nick and I first discovered – and ultimately fell in love with – orange wines.

Nikki by example | www.nikkibyexample.com

A sampling of the orange wines we tasted at Bar Brunello.

First, a little education: I’m sure most of us are familiar with rosé wines and we think of them as a nice middle between a red and white. A rosé is wine made from red grapes where the skins are removed during the smashing (maceration) process — the same way skins are removed from white grapes when making white wine — incorporating a little bit of red color from the red grape into the wine but not enough color or tannins to qualify it as a red. Essentially, I’ve heard it explained as taking red grapes and processing them the way you would process white grapes to make wine. Well, orange wines are the opposite: the skins of the white grapes are left on during the maceration process to incorporate more tannins and bigger body into the wine and giving it that “orange” color. So, it’s taking white grapes and processing them the way you would process red grapes to make wine. Orange wines are also called skin contact wines because the color (and flavor/other characteristics) of the wine is dependent on the contact of the skin during the maceration process. Pretty cool, huh?

Nikki by example | www.nikkibyexample.com

Bar Brunello owner, Esteban, teaching us all about the process of making orange wines.

Bar Brunello has an awesome series where they choose a theme and offer tastings every few months. When we saw the orange wine tasting about a month ago, we jumped at the chance to attend and we were NOT disappointed. The thing about orange wines is that they can be a little funky. Rosés, I think, are typically sweeter and/or on the dryer side but orange wines tend to be more acidic or sweet-sour, and they remind me a little bit of sour beers. So, if you’re a fan of sour beers like Nick and I are, then you’ll probably enjoy orange wines! Below is a bottle of orange wine we purchased to enjoy at home.

Nikki by example | www.nikkibyexample.com

Antica Masseria Venditti, Grieco di Castelvanere/Cerreto, Sannio, Campania, Italy, 2016

Ultimately, I like the funkiness and unpredictability of orange wines, and I like that it’s fairly unique and still somewhat unknown in the wine-drinking community at large so it feels like you’re in a secret club when drinking it. What do you think? Have you ever/would you ever try an orange wine? Did you like it or do you think you would like it?


If you’re intrigued, here are a few more resources on orange wines for you to enjoy:

Orange Wine is Just a Color, Not a Type of Wine from Bon Appétit: headline aside, she gives some really good info on orange wines and provides some recommendations for those who would like to try them)

All About Orange Wines from Wine Folly: good overview + food pairing ideas

8 Questions about Orange Wines You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask by Vine Pair