It is only the newest and latest trend in wine.  Gaining in popularity around the world, orange wine is “skin fermented white wine”… huh?  The juice is fermented with skins, and sometimes stems, for a minimum of 10 days (this will be the rule in Canada but may differ in other regions). Beppi Crosariol describes the wine “off beat” which accurately summed it up for us.

We recently attended an Orange Wine Tasting at the AGO. Joshua Corea, co-owner of Archive Wine Bar and Fiona Beckett, wine writer to The Guardian were both on the panel and this is what they had to say about the wines.

Josh describes orange wine as having “more structure, weight and density than white but less fruity, more herbal with a bergamot tea aroma.  People who like craft beer and some yeast in their beer may be more open to this wine.”  Fiona comments, “It takes time to adjust your palate.  But no one starts by drinking a double espresso.”

We decided to get together and do our own Orange Wine tasting.  Except, they are hard to find.  Luckily we found a bottle at Southbrook Winery in Niagara and they were able to deliver to us within 2 days.  To contrast we also compared the orange wine to the Southbrook Rose and Southbrook Chardonnay.

So what about the cheese?
We tried the wine with 7 different cheeses and here is what we found.  Soft cheeses like camembert or La Sauvagine were ok – not great but not terrible either.  Louis D’or (a hard cheese similar to an alpine cheese) was not a great match as the tannins in the wine did not mesh well with the saltiness of the cheese and the wine changed the texture of the cheese to unpalatable.  We expected a sheep milk cheese to be the winner but it fell a little flat for both of us.  The winner was Lindsay Clothbound Goat Cheddar and for fun we threw in a blue cheese which definitely ranked at the very bottom.

Sue:  “I think the Bleu D’Elizabeth was my least favourite pairing due to a finish that was harsh based on the wines’ tannins and the cheeses sharpness.”
Ally:  “I agree about the blue.  My favourite was the Clothbound Lindsay Cheddar (goat milk).  It compliments well, mellows the tannins on the wine and adds depth and flavour to the cheese.”
Sue:  “yes, and the wine cleansed the palate nicely.”

So then we had to ask, Is skin fermented white wine cheese friendly wine?

Sue:  “I’m not convinced so far but I am willing to put my nose to the grindstone and keep trying.”
Ally:  “I’m not convinced either but I think I’m done. I’m going to stick to my champers!”

The tasting was fun and I think we have more work to do to find good cheese and orange wine matches.  The 9 wines we tasted at the AGO we all quite different but in general they had an iced tea with underlying quince flavour.  We would recommend that you look for orange wine on a wine list and speak to the sommelier about which one to try with your meal.
Or order a bottle from Southbrook Winery in Niagara to do your own tasting at home (the Cabernet Rose and Chardonnay both were delicious!).  We have offered up some tips for Orange Wine tasting at home.

How to Serve Orange Wine
– warmer then average white wine
– use larger glasses like a Chardonnay glass or a big red glass
– decant the orange wine.  It’s more for show but it’s such a unique and special wine it deserves attention.

What to Eat with Orange Wine
– strongly flavoured foods such as lamb, veal, pork, game meats
– Indian foods
– Cured meats
– Rich stews (popular in the Republic of Georgia, which is where a lot of orange or “amber” wine is consumed)

What to wear with Orange Wine
– your fun 1960’s pants, of course!

For more reading on Orange Wine we suggest you check out Beppi Crosariol’s article in the Globe and Mail  “There is a fourth wine colour, and it’s all the rage”

Ally & Sue