Unlike blue wine, which first made its rounds on the internet in 2016, orange wine isn’t exactly a new drink. Its origins can be traced back as far as 5,000 years to Caucasus (modern-day Georgia), where the wines were fermented in subterranean vessels.
Contrary to popular belief, orange wine is not made of oranges, but it instead earns its name from its colour, which is attained through prolonged maceration of white wines. To make orange wine, white grapes are mashed and left to ferment with the grape skins and seeds intact. No additives are added in the very natural process, resulting in a rich honeyed colour and unique flavour profile.
Orange Winemaking: A Natural Process
This natural winemaking style makes orange wine a perfect fit for Dellarosa Wine, a new online wine service in Singapore dedicated to offering artisanal organic, biodynamic and natural wines.
The best of the MICHELIN Experience in your inbox
Stay on the top of the best restaurants, offers, lifestyle, and events recommended in our guide cities.
“We want to import wines that are authentic expressions of their terroirs,” explains founder Quintino Dellarosa. “These approaches in the vineyard not only enhance biodiversity and respect for nature by involving minimal human intervention, but also produce healthier wines that are free of chemicals, such as herbicides or fungicides.”
He first came across orange wines a couple of years ago in Slovenia, one of the orange wine-producing territories along Northeastern Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.
“I sampled a wine from Movia—one of the most prominent wineries in Southeastern Europe—a blend of Ribolla and Chardonnay called Lunar,” says Dellarosa. “It wasn’t something I expected the first time I had it.”
The 2013 Lunar is made from grapes manually harvested from 65-year-old ribolla vines and undergoes seven months of natural vinification, after which only the free-flowing wine from the unpressed grapes is bottled without filtration and allowed to refine in the bottle. The amber-coloured wine that results from it is unique in its intense honeyed sourness and nutty flavour—an acquired taste for first-time drinkers.
Porta del Vento, Saharay (2015)
“It’s important to free ourselves from any preconceptions about wine when sampling the different variations, especially orange wines, which may appear unfamiliar at first, but actually have great textures, good tannin structures and notes of hazelnut, apricot, bruised apple, wood and fine herbs on the palate,” says Dellarosa, who enamoured of the bold wine, decided to make it available in his online store, alongside another orange wine from Sicily.
The 2015 Saharay might make a gentler introduction to orange wines. This wine from the hills of Porta del Vento has a golden-yellow colour with notes of almond, apricot and sweet spices on the nose. In the mouth, it has a dynamic palate, great sapidity and great tannin.
Bold Food Pairings
Because orange wines are so bold in taste, Dellarosa recommends pairing them with equally bold and innovative dishes. “Fermented foods like miso, kimchi or Indonesian tempeh definitely work, and orange wine can also pair well with lamb shanks, beef or fish dishes,” he says. “Lunar was recently paired with smoked eel dashi at Odette, and it was an ingenious pairing.”
Rachel Tan is the Associate Digital Editor at the MICHELIN Guide Digital. A former food magazine writer based in Singapore, she has a degree in communications for journalism but is a graduate of the school of hard knocks in the kitchen. She writes to taste life twice.
True to Robert Parker’s vision to independently evaluate and highlight wines from all around the world, this innovative move will encourage wine lovers to explore new territories and learn about the passionate work of wine makers.