We've all been there. You walk into the wine section of the bottle-o, and immediately go to pick a red wine, white wine, rosé, chardonnay or champagne. Although these varieties are affordable and are sure to win everyone over, in 2019, we're encouraging you to try a natural orange wine, for something a little different.
Natural wine has become more popular over the last few years, with Australian wine makers adding less additives to their products and utilising different processes to create unique flavours. 'Orange wine' is a type of wine many makers have started to produce and it's becoming more and more popular.
Unfortunately, these wines aren't readily available in many bottle shops, so we spoke to wine expert Lou Dowling, co-owner of P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants, to ask what natural wine is and why we aren't seeing it sold in more liquor stores.
What is natural wine?
‘Natural’ or minimal intervention is just that, wine that has been made with as little intervention from the natural process as possible. This starts with the farmer, their ethics on looking after the earth, not using harmful chemicals on their crops and treating their vines and the environment all around with respect and great care. The same care is taken in the winery, the wine is fermented with native yeasts with no synthetic additives and little to no sulfites. The wine is typically unfiltered and unfined, giving it a greater complexity in flavours, the more you filter something the less flavour it tends to have. Simply, the wines should be organic (or bio-dynamic farmed), fermented naturally, have no additives, little or no sulphur added, and not filtered or fined."
What is orange wine?
Simply put, ‘orange’ or skin contact wine is a white wine treated like a red wine in the wine making process. The juice is left in contact with the grape skins which gives it that off white/orangish/amber hue. Once again they generally are unfiltered and unfined. One of the oldest wine making techniques and bloody delicious!
How is it different to 'normal' wine?
The wines are produced without additives, which is a distinction, and the fruit should come from vineyards that aren’t farmed with chemicals. Just fermented grapes, is the idea. Aside [from] this, the colour and unfiltering is the main difference in appearance, growing up I was always told that the clearer the wine, the better it was. Now of course I understand that it just means it has been stripped of its flavour and any fun quirks that particular vintage had. Wine shouldn’t taste exactly the same every year, the weather is different, the seasons run longer or shorter, each year should have it’s individual taste.
Taste-wise, wines produced as orange wine can take you on a wild journey! Everything from clean and crisp to barnyard funkiness (trust me it isn’t as weird as it sounds).
Is it a healthy alternative?
There are over 50 different things which can be added to wine, and which are added to wine by industrial winemakers—essentially, the less additives in your glass, the healthier it is for you.
Why don't we see orange wine in more bottle shops, restaurants and venues?
I think we are seeing people embrace it in a huge way which is great! Only a small amount of winemakers in Australia are reverting back to this way to making their wine and generally, people have been conditioned to think wine should all be conventional, so getting people to dip their little toes in first will see the rise of orange wine on wine lists and bottle shops. I think we are increasingly seeing this wine-making style become more prevalent.