Orange wine sales are spiking — here’s why it’s on summer menus everywhere



wp content%2Fuploads%2Fsites%2F2%2F2024%2F07%2Fmkc77c waiter pouring cold orange 85171586

Rosé, no way.

Pink is so passé — orange is the preferred wine color at this summer’s smartest poolside soirees, as the ancient, skin contact, skin-fermented glug makes grape strides towards global popularity.

The UK-based retailer Ocado has seen a 99% increase in orange wine sales since last year, according to The Guardian, and in 2023, US-based alcohol delivery company Drizzly reported an 167% increase in orders for the specialty vino year-over-year, per Bon Appétit.

Orange wine is slated to be the hottest vino this summer, according to experts. Alamy Stock Photo
Despite its name, orange wine gets its color and taste from the way the grapes are aged and processed, not from the citrus fruit. Alamy Stock Photo

The growing demand has spurred grocers to begin stocking shelves with the citrus-colored stuff, which previously could only be found at independent liquor stores or by the glass at in-the-know wine bars — despite originating in the country of Georgia, centuries ago.

On TikTok, amateur wine connoisseurs rave about orange wine, as users swept the shelves at U.K. Aldi stores after the grocery chain released its “Rosorange” rosé-orange hybrid this spring.

Winemaker Gérard Bertrand compared the rise of orange wine to that of rosé nearly two decades ago.

“I remember when rosé was starting slow, in France and exporting to other markets in early 2000. And now it’s an amazing category,” Bertrand told The Observer. “I think it takes time, and not all the chefs and sommeliers like to pair with orange wines yet. It will [only] be a matter of time when more winegrowers are involved.”

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Despite its name, orange wine is not made from the fruit of the same name; rather, the tipple acquires its amber tint from the way the grapes are aged.

Instead of removing the skins before aging — a necessary for white wine production — the skin is kept on the white wine grapes, hence the name “skin contact wine,” for a process similar to that of making reds.

Experts compare the rise of orange wine to that of rosé. Michael Loccisano

“Orange wine has a different taste profile, especially because of the aging during the winemaking process— more or less one month minimum, and then 12 months of aging in oak,” Bertrand said. “And then the maceration process and skin contact development reinforces the aromatic profiles, resulting in notes like peanut butter or apricot.”

Experts tell Bon Appétit that the flavor profile of orange wine varieties can differ greatly from bottle to bottle, since it can be made from any white wine grape that is aged for any amount of time, thus resulting in a diverse array of orange wines.

“Drinking orange wine is a great way to learn how to taste,” Isabelle Legeron, the founder of the natural wine fair Raw Wine, told the outlet. “It really teaches you what you like.” 

It’s also a conversation starter. Sommeliers will pepper patrons with a bevy of questions about whether they’ll be pairing the glass with food, what kinds of flavors they’re looking for and more, while fellow drinkers at the table may ask what the heck orange wine is and whether they’ll like it, too.

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In a way, it can be a gateway wine, industry insiders tell Bon Appétit.

“It really does pique curiosity,” explained Jahdé Marley, a wine and spirits educator based in Brooklyn.

“There’s so many things to talk about, and people are more open to receiving them, I think.”

LES-based Orange Glou is a wine shop dedicated to orange wines. Alamy Stock Photo

Bertrand’s company, in partnership with the market research agency Kantar Group, found that nearly half of American wine drinkers know that orange wine exists. Not only that, a majority had already tried it, while a third were regular drinkers, according to 2023 survey results of 1,000 adults.

However, 84% of wine lovers had never tried orange wine but were willing to drink it, which Bertrand said is a opportunity for the type of wine to proliferate.

In New York City, one shop is attempting to cash in on the growing trend. The Lower East Side’s Orange Glou, which just celebrated its third anniversary, opened its doors in 2021, boasting itself as the first orange wine store in the world.

“For years I’ve seen and personally fueled the growth of consumer interest in orange wines,” founder Doreen Winkler told Food & Wine at the time.

“To match this growing demand, more and more producers have been getting into the orange wine game, creating more variety and helping to expand the reach of this style of wine. I have seen through my own subscription service, and in the industry overall, that orange wine has moved well beyond a trend and carved out its own established, sought-after, and rapidly growing place in the wine world.”

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