Skin-contact wine, amber wine, or orange wine is a type of wine made from white wine grapes where the grape skins are not removed, as in typical white wine production, and stay in contact with the juice for days or even months. This contrasts with conventional white wine production, which involves crushing the grapes and quickly moving the juice off the skins into the fermentation vessel. The skins contain color pigment, phenols and tannins that would normally be considered undesirable for white wines, while for red wines skin contact and maceration is a vital part of the winemaking process that gives red wine its color, flavor, and texture.
The practice has a long history in winemaking dating back hundreds of years in Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and thousands of years in the Eurasian wine producing country of Georgia. The practice was revitalised by Italian and Slovenian winemakers, initially in the cross-border Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine and Goriska Brda regions, while there is also production in Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, and California.
Skin-contact wines were not uncommon in Italy up until the 1950s and 1960s, but fell out of fashion as technically "correct" and fresh white wines came to dominate the market.
This style of wines can also be known by their colour references of having an amber or orange tinge that the base white wine receives due to its contact with the coloring pigments of the grape skins.
|With skin contact||Without skin contact|
|Red grapes||red wine||rosé wine|
|White grapes||orange wine||white wine|
This winemaking style is essentially the opposite of rosé production which involves getting red wine grapes quickly off their skins, leaving the wine with a slightly pinkish hue. However, in the case of Pinot gris, among the more popular grapes to apply a skin-contact treatment that is neither red nor white, the diffuse nature of the term becomes illustrated, as both a skin-contact wine and a rosé might achieve a similar expression of pink/amber/orange/salmon-colored wine.
The popular term "Orange wine" was coined by a British wine importer, David A. Harvey, in 2004.
- Miquel Hudin & Daria Kholodolina (2017), Georgia: A guide to the cradle of wine, Vinologue, p. 300, ISBN 978-1941598054
- Woolf, Simon, Decanter, "Orange wines: it's time to get in touch". Decanter. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- Bonné, Jon, San Francisco Chronicle (October 11, 2009). Soaking white grapes in skins is orange crush
- Bonné, Jon, San Francisco Chronicle: Inside Scoop SF (June 15, 2010). Shedding light on orange wine
- Asimov, Eric, The New York Times: The Pour (August 3, 2009). Orange Wines
- Dalheim, Ulf, Adresseavisen (September 4, 2009). Ikke på ville veier (in Norwegian)
- Asimov, Eric, The New York Times: The Pour (October 8, 2009). Orange Wine Edges Toward the Mainstream, Slightly
- Bonné, Jon, San Francisco Chronicle: The Cellarist (October 13, 2009). When is a wine orange?
- Legeron MW, Isabelle. Natural wine : an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally. ISBN 1782491007. OCLC 884370524.