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A guide to orange wines with Orange Glou


4 min read

In the warmer months, many of us may naturally gravitate to a chilled glass of rosé, but this summer we wanted to try something a little different and explore the increasingly popular, orange wine.

You may be wondering, what is orange wine? To find out more, we’ve teamed up with New York-based natural wine sommelier and orange wine expert Doreen Winkler. Founder of Orange Glou, one of the first orange wine subscription services, Doreen guides us through this increasingly popular type of wine. From tips on how to decant to food pairings, discover your new favourite wine for the summer.

 Doreen Winkler from Orange Glou

 Doreen Winkler & Jack Wan Founders of Orange Glou

Firstly, what is orange wine and how is it different to natural wine?

Orange, or skin-contact-wine is a type of wine made from white wine grapes where the grape skins stay in contact with the juice for part of the vinification process. Anywhere from several hours to as long as a year. Natural wine is an umbrella term that includes sustainable, organic and biodynamic wine. It can apply to any type of wine, including orange.

In short, natural wine is made from perfectly ripened grapes that have not been sprayed with any chemicals and are hand-harvested, often twice to only pick ripe grapes, with fermentation happening only with native yeasts that grow on the vines, and no additives. Just pure grape juice.

The word ‘funk(y)’ gets used when describing orange wines. What does it mean?

The word funky needs to be replaced. There is so much education out there now about natural wines that we don’t need to use that word anymore. I believe it started when it was all new and different, but at this point, natural wine has been around for a bit.

When someone asks us for funky wine, we ask them what they mean by that. They often don’t know or respond with a wide range of aromas and textures.

Gold mirror finish eto with orange wine

Gold mirror finish eto with orange wine 

Do you have any recommendations when it comes to decanting orange wine?

We have a selection of aged orange wines and I highly recommend decanting them. This way they open up and deliver their full potential.

We carry wines from Gravner, Radikon, Paolo Bea and many other iconic orange wines that can benefit from decanting. As well, we have a few sparkling orange wines, that are dense and with thousands of little bubbles and decanting these types of wines is very beneficial.

Are there any countries that are leading the way in orange wines?

Georgia is where the tradition began eight thousand years ago, and they continue to lead the way. That said, many wonderful orange wine producers have emerged all over the world in recent decades and they are creating new and interesting wines. 

Recently the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Italy have been creating very cool stuff.

Selection of Orange Wine from Orange Glou

A selection of orange wine from Orange Glou

Having worked with many wonderful restaurants as a sommelier, do you have any recommendations on bars and restaurants to enjoy orange or natural wine?

1. Bar Brutal Barcelona

2. Septime La Cave Paris

3. Ordinaire Oakland

    What wines will you be enjoying this summer? Any advice on food pairings? 

            I have new favourites every week but I drink what I am in the mood for. If I want something super light for the park then I go for Wild Arc Traminer Piquette Cans from Hudson Valley-only 5% alcohol but so flavourful.

            When my boyfriend wants to eat hot pot with the AC cranked up in the summer with lots of seafood and spicy Szechuan sauce, I’d go for a light to medium, very minerally orange wine like the Perfect Day from Pittnauer in Burgenland, Austria.

            When I go to my favourite Chinese restaurant Wu’s Wonton King on the Lower East Side, I might take a bottle of Bodegas Gratias Tardana from Castilla La Mancha, a full-bodied orange wine with lots of exotic citrus fruits like pomelo, blood orange and finger limes.

            Furlani, Sur Lie Alpino Macerato, an example of a great Italian orange wine

            Furlani, Sur Lie Alpino Macerato, an example of a great Italian orange wine

            Finally, how did your love for orange wine develop?

            I am a Sommelier and have been fascinated with orange wine for years. I have consulted for many restaurants in New York City over the last decade and brought many orange wines to the city’s wine lists. I like to think that I made people fall in love with it too.

            The Orange Glou wine subscription service began as a very personal project that allowed me to introduce orange wine lovers to a broader range of orange wines than they could find on their own. And, with that, I meant the absolute best orange wine has to offer, as natural as it goes. The hardest to find bottles, the most exciting wines from all over the world. 

            Doreen Winkler is a natural wine sommelier, orange wine expert and the founder of Orange Glou. Featured in the New York Times and Forbes, Doreen has worked in the wine industry for over a decade and has developed wine programs for some of the top restaurants in New York City. She has a unique focus on natural wine and especially orange wines. You’ll normally find Doreen at her store, at international natural wine fairs or helping harvest at some cool winery.

            For more inspiration on summer wine pairings, read our guide to the perfect picnic wine pairings with author and sommelier, Burt Blaize.