Orange wine is not just for wine geeks. Although some wine critics have dismissed orange wine as a fad, there is a growing appreciation that the best of these wines offer an exciting new palate dimension. They are especially interesting wines to pair with food.
But I’m jumping ahead in the plot. First, what is an orange wine? The short answer and the only one needed here is that an orange wine is a white wine that has been left on the skin for several days, up to several months in extreme cases. Leaving a wine on the skins (white or red) adds tannin and astringency to the wine. It also adds an indefinable complexity, a layering of flavor that fully engages the palate.
Also, orange wines are usually fermented without adding commercial yeast and fermented in open top wood vats or sometimes in clay.
Just speculation but I am guessing that the white wine that Marc Anthony and Ms. Cleopatra shared had an orange hue. How orange depends on how long the wine is left on skins.
What all this is leading to is the bottle of Donkey & Goat 2013 Stone Crusher Roussanne that The Chef (Ann Walker) and I shared one recent evening. The Berkeley winery has long been a favorite of ours but somehow we had never tried their orange wine, even though they have been making it since 2009.
The Chef immediately declared it an excellent wine for pairing with vegetables, especially the Kaboucha squash and mild Thai red chili soup she had made that afternoon. As we slowly tasted our way through the bottle—finishing the last glass with Blue Lupine, a blue cow and goat cheese from Weirauche Farm and Creamery in Sonoma. The Chef further declared it would go well with a great range of food, especially richer more intense dishes.
“I’d like to make a roasted leek and herbed mushroom bread pudding to taste with this wine,” The Chef said as we regarded the empty bottle at the end of the evening.
Considering the wine itself, the orange tint is not deep. In a bad light it could pass for a rosé in color. Not in the mouth, of course. There is an intense minerality, a tangy acidity leading to a long wrap around finish that leaves the taste buds asking for “more, please.”
Try a bottle. If you like it as much as we do, ask The Chef to design a menu for you based on Stone Crusher Roussanne.
I’m still waiting for that mushroom bread pudding.
===Larry Walker, The Wine Chap