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Amber champions: Top 30 orange wines

Though divisive, orange wine is a style that’s finally gaining real popularity among winemakers and drinkers alike. Simon J Woolf endeavours to put any remaining scepticism to rest, explaining the traditions behind the technique and recommending 30 of his favourite skin-contact discoveries.

Five years is a long time in wine. When I first wrote at length about orange wines in Decanter, in 2015, many wine pundits still viewed the style with suspicion – if not downright derision. It felt slightly bleeding edge, even if these wines had been appearing on our shelves for more than a decade.

Now, in 2020, the fourth wine colour has elbowed its way into the hearts and minds of exponentially more adventurous drinkers around the globe, with orange wines produced and enjoyed on every continent. And justly so – with four possible combinations of red or white grapes with or without skins, why ignore 25% of wine’s possibilities?

Some are still perplexed by the style – or, more particularly, the name. If you accept the lexicon of red, white and rosé, then why not orange too? In actuality, all four terms describe the winemaking technique (grape colour, plus skins or not) rather than colour or style, per se.

‘It shouldn’t be forgotten that “natural wine” represents an overarching philosophy, whereas “orange wine” describes a specific technique’

It follows that not all orange wines are dark-amber coloured, tannic and cidery, just as not all red wines are mega-purple hued, grippy and oaky. Each of these four categories of wine offers up a multitude of taste, aroma and weight profiles.


Simon Woolf’s top 30 orange wines


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