Dear The Wine Ladies,

At a recent dinner party we were served a very unusual wine, most enjoyable but of a different kind and/or colour. It was called an orange wine; in fact I believe that was the name of the wine as well. I’m pretty sure it came from the Niagara region if I remember correctly. What is an orange wine? Is it similar to a rosé wine and made in the same way?

– Tanya

Dear Tanya,

Thanks for the great question. We have enjoyed some fabulous orange wines over the years, mostly coming from the old world wine regions
including the Friuli region of Italy and a very special one we tasted last fall from South Australia. It’s exciting that this type of wine, which actually dates back thousands of years ago is gaining a little traction and can be found right here in our local market.

It sounds like the orange wine you enjoyed was indeed from the Niagara region produced by Southbrook Vineyards located in Niagaraon-the-Lake. Southbrook is a beautiful winery that produces some exquisite wines, which also incidentally was the first winery in Canada to achieve both organic and biodynamic certification in 2008. The wine is called Orange Wine and was likely the 2016 vintage you tasted which became available at the winery mid March of this year.

WHAT IS AN ORANGE WINE AND HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM ROSE WINES?

Orange wines, similar to white wines are made with white grapes but attain their orange hue and slight tannins due to extended grape skin contact with the juice during fermentation or maceration. Rosé wines are made with red wine grapes and sometimes white as well, but it is the contact of the skins of the red grapes with the juice that contribute the colour to the rosé wines. Depending on the grapes used, how it is made and how much time the juice remains in contact with the skin, rosé wines can range in colour from very pale to quite a deep pink.

A LITTLE ABOUT THE SOUTHBROOK VINEYARD ORANGE WINE:

As you may recall, it would have been quite a bright orange colour with an intense aroma of peach and apricot. You may also have noticed a slight hint of rose petal and black tea on the nose which are descriptions attributed to the wine by the winemaker. Dry, light bodied, 9.8% alcohol but large and complex in flavour and finish. A wine that pairs well with a variety of foods including select cheeses and perhaps a delectable Beef Carpaccio! Available at the winery for $29.95 – a true treat!
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