What is Orange Wine?

Welcome to Glinda's inaugural wine advice column, where we shed light on your most burning questions in an effort to help you appear to know more about wine than you actually do. First up, a curious customer asks something we hear a variation of quite often in the shop:

Dear Glinda,
Do you have any Oranges? My daughter says they are her favorite and she's bringing over her new ‘friend’ to our house next week - everyone is getting tested, don’t worry! - and I would like to provide some hip wines for them to enjoy.
-Sipless in Seattle

Why yes, Sipless, some of our wines have an orange hue. Except we prefer to call them Skin-Contact since they're not limited by a particular color. Perhaps from inside our wine-soaked bubble we forgot that not everyone read this article by Marisa Ross when it came out in 2018? Likely so.

Here's a quick primer from Jonathan, our shop manager:

Skin-Contact white wines, often called Orange wines, are all the rage these days. And for good reason: they're aromatic, versatile, and a change of pace for many folks. But how do they differ from white wines?

They are essentially "white wines made like red wines". This means the grapes macerate (juice and skins mingling together) for a period of time, which pulls out aromatics, tannin, and color. A longer maceration time leads to more extraction of all those qualities.

99% of red grapes have pale flesh (insides) so all their color comes from the skins, and this is what leads many folks to use the word Orange for macerated white wines. However, not all white grapes imbue color no matter how long you macerate them for.

And there you have it folks...
Skin-Contact - the thing we’ve all been missing since Covid hit.