Contrary to popular belief, orange wine is not orange and is not made from the orange fruit. Orange wine is essentially a winemaking method that involves white wine and an unconventional style in which it is made. To understand the process of making orange wine, it is vital first to understand the traditional winemaking methods.
When producing white wines and red wines, the process is very similar, but the difference really lies in how the grapes are fermented. With both red and white wines, the grapes are harvested, brought to the winery, and crushed to release the juice. However, while white wines are separated from their skins before they are fermented, to make red wines, the skins are left with the juice during fermentation.
This is an important element since the red color is extracted from the skins of the grapes. The inside of a red grape is clear - so the only way to extract color (and tannin) is to leave the skins with the juice. With white wine, the skins are separated from the juice since the skin isn't a necessary element in terms of color. And since you don't want tannin in your white wine, most winemakers keep the skins away from the juice.
The process of making orange wine is where these two winemaking methods overlap. Essentially, orange wine allows white wines to ferment with their skins, as red wines would. Another term for orange wine is skin-contact white wine, which perfectly describes how it is made. In most cases, winemakers don't add additives, allowing the wine to develop and ferment naturally. Rarely is there even commercial yeast added for fermentation, genuinely allowing the wine to express its pure self.
Compared to traditional white wines, these orange wines have an intense, dark, golden hue (hence the name) and have a range of different aromas and flavors. You will find notes of honey, jackfruit, hazelnut, bruised apple, sourdough, and orange rind. These wines are also very dry and high in tannin (which is not common with white wine at all.) The wines are extremely big, bold, and expressive, and not an easy-drinking, sipping wine.
In terms of food and wine pairings, orange wine pairs best with bold food that doesn't shy away from the wine's boldness. Food with complex spices, especially those from Thailand, Japan, and Korea, pair exceptionally well with these wines. These are excellent options for those looking to pair white wine with red meat. Since most white wines are too elegant for the high protein in red meat, the pairings don't work well. However, the tannin and boldness of an orange wine would do exceptionally well with the meat.