Why I drink BC ORANGE wine (And Maybe You Should Too)

Visiting Vancouver restaurants it’s hard not to notice a bright movement in winepairing…Orange wine is fashionable right now – but is it anything NEW? History tells us no.

So, I’m new here and I don’t know the first thing about wine.  What is ORANGE wine – I thought there were red and green grapes.  Are there also Orange grapes?

Orange wine is made from green grapes that typically make white wine.  This style of winemaking allows the grape juice to oxidize during fermentation in contact with grapeskins which are normally removed in white winemaking.


What does Orange Wine taste like?

You get interesting smokey, pungent, citrus, fruity aromas in this style of wine – and also a small amount of tannin.

Wines are typically fermented dry – which means they aren’t sweet even if they smell sweet – but here’s why it works:  these complex interesting wines have many flavours which offer lots of opportunities to successfully pair with different ingredients.


WHERE did this trend get started?

Ancient winemakers in Georgia (Europe) made wines out of both red and green grapes in clay jars called Amphorae.  These containers would let oxygen interact with the skins & grape juice during fermentation.  Interesting and complex, wines are being rediscovered in restaurants as they pair seamlessly with a wide range of foods.


Do all Orange wines taste the SAME?

There are different styles of orange wines – the most recent I’ve tried was silky, round, full and gentle on the palate & loaded with flavour:

St. Laszlo Winery, 2015 Pinot Gris – Similkameen Valley BC

Known for being the first winemaking in the scenic and often windy Similkameen Valley, St.Laszlo Winery makes artisan wines using as minimal a process as can be.

Wines are made from grapes you’ve never tried and exhibit a deliberately oxidized character uniform throughout winemaker Joe Ritlop’s portfolio.  I was impressed in particular with his Pinot Gris which is made with skin contact in an Orange style.  Tried it with a BBQ teriyaki vegetarian shishkabob, and here’s how it tasted:

“black tea, grapefruit, lemon juice, green apple, coastal (red) huckleberry, yoghurt, honeydew melon, apricot jam, apple juice, sherry, plus a herbal quality” – St. Laszlo Pinot Gris – 2015 Vintage

The thing that threw me off about this wine was its brightness.  Had it outside at sundown and the wine absolutely glowed fluorescent orange.  I’ve never seen this in a wine before – and as you can see from the pics it’s amazing.  Add this colour to all those flavours and for under $15, you have an approachable, local artisan-made orange wine. (Find St.Laszlo and all the other Similkameen Valley wineries on my map!)




Some ORANGE WINE links for the curious…

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_wine

WINEFOLLY : http://winefolly.com/review/orange-wine/

HUFFINGTON POST: http://bit.ly/2sJDnCf