If orange wine had a tagline, it would read: “Orange like the color, not the fruit.” That’s because, despite the somewhat confusing name, these skin-contact wines are just whites made like reds. To understand, here’s a little wine primer: Red wines are made by fermenting grape juice with the skins to add color and complexity, while whites are made without skin contact. To make an orange wine, white-fleshed grapes are fermented with the skins to add tannic qualities (pair it with whatever you’ve got on the grill) and a distinctive orange hue, ranging from almost yellow to deep amber.
“In my experience, people don’t feel ambivalently about it,” says Clark Moore of Wine at Five in Rye, which carries several varietals, including an atypical Chenin Blanc from Catalunya, Spain. “It’s a visceral love/hate experience…. I find it deeply, compellingly floral, rich, and spicy. There’s nothing else quite like it.”
To pick up a few different options, head to Westchester Wine Warehouse in White Plains, where a small section is dedicated to skin-contact selections, like a traditionally made Georgian Rkatsiteli, an ultra-affordable Slovenian Pinot Gris, and the minerality-forward Monastero Suore Ruscum, an Italian blend produced by nuns in Lazio.