What do you get when you lay off staff writers and treat your wine column as filler? Nonsense like this.
Huffington Post ran this story last week: “What The Hell Orange Wine Is, And Why It’s The New Rosé”, but the New York Post got their first with Orange Wine is the New Rosé. (Yes. I know it’s the NY Post so the nonsense is not surprising)
I have never tasted an orange wine that was anything like a rosé. Typical rosés are light-bodied, very fresh, with strawberry, floral, or citrus aromas, high acidity and almost no tannin. Orange wines are medium to full bodied with a wide range of interesting but odd flavor notes and usually quite firm tannins.
There is a minor similarity between the two styles. Both acquire color by regulating skin-contact. But that’s where the similarity ends. Rosé is made using red-skinned grapes and allowing the juice to sit on the skins for a few hours to draw out some color before being finished or bled off. It’s red wine with minimal skin contact—red wine made like a white wine. Some winemakers will allow the grapes to macerate for considerably more time, up to about 20 hours, which allows the wine to approach red wine characteristics, but this is unusual. Most people who drink rosé seek a light, refreshing wine with bright, fresh fruit characteristics.
Orange wine is made using white skin or light-skin grapes. The wine is allowed to macerate on the skins for a few days to several months. They pick up some color from the light skins acquiring an orange, gold, or brown hue but most of what they acquire is tannins, texture, and body. It’s white wine made like a red wine. That long maceration time allows many of these wines to pick up oxidative flavors which could not be described as fresh. They taste utterly different from a rose. They lack dominant fresh fruit characteristics and acquire funky fruit flavors, nuts, honey, and cider notes. They feel heavier in the mouth with lots of texture.
So orange wines are not made like rosé, they don’t taste like rosé, and are consumed for a different purpose—not as refreshment but as an interesting expression of an unusual, ancient technique. Rosé has become popular because the dry styles that now dominate are refreshing, go with many different foods, and make a great light-bodied quaffer at a reasonable price. Orange wines will go with many foods but are not the sort of thing you crave on a hot, summer night. They are heavy and seem to demand study and a concerted effort to understand them.
I know editors choose the headlines so maybe the writer’s are off the hook on this, but really this comparison is just silly.
If Rosé is to be replaced—which I doubt because they have settled into a genuine niche—it will not be by orange wine.