Orange Wine vs Rosé

Posted by Niclas Jansson on

As the weather warms up here in the Northeast people are starting to pop bottles of chilled rosé and enjoy the sunshine. Rosé has been a mainstay of spring/summer in the United States for years, and it’s definitely here to stay. But what about its cousin, the lesser-known style of wine known affectionately (or not depending on who is saying it) as orange wine? In this article we’ll delve deep into orange wine vs rosé, and hopefully help dispel any myths about it.

Listen to the Podcast Below


What Is Orange Wine and What Is Rosé?

For some people, orange wine is literally wine made with oranges. We haven’t tried our hand at orange winemaking yet, but if you have, let us know in the comments! For most, however, orange wine is a style of wine in which you allow mashed white wine grapes to ferment with the skins and seeds still attached for a period of time. This can be days, weeks, or even months in some cases! Without this added time on the skins, you just have a standard white wine. The skin and seeds of the grapes are what gives it the orange hue, and provides a very interesting flavor profile as well!

On the other hand, rosé is a style of wine in which red grapes are lightly pressed before going into some kind of vessel (oak, steel, etc.) to ferment. This is an important note when learning about orange wine vs rosé. Orange wine is white grapes that ferment on the skins, whereas rosé is red wine that is lightly pressed with the skins. Remember, fermentation is not equal to pressing - they are completely different wine making techniques.

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Orange Natural Wine Box


Okay, Great - So What Does Orange Wine Taste Like

Is “delicious” enough of a descriptor? Okay fine. Orange wine tastes almost like a tannic white wine, which makes sense given that some tannin comes from grape skins and seeds. It will often have a citrusy, herbal nose and a zippy high-acid finish. Some orange wines almost have a crushed aspirin-like quality (called phenolic bitterness) to them that we find to be pretty polarizing - I love it, Holly doesn’t like it as much.

Both orange wine and rosé can be acidic and refreshing, but rosé has a lot more red fruit like strawberry, raspberry, etc. compared to orange wine. We did a longer post on pairing orange wine that you can find here.

Orange Wine, Rosé, and Seasonality

Orange wine at 2amys in washington dc

We love busting out the rosé around this time of year and through the summer - check out Un Grain de Folie for a hazy, delicious natural rosé from France! However, we don’t usually drink it much outside the summer months. We find orange wine to be a little more flexible. We’ve been drinking it all winter, and will keep it going through this summer. What does change a bit is the style of orange wine - the slightly heavier, longer maceration wines may be better in fall/winter whereas a lightly macerated orange is perfect for brunch on the patio. That said, you can’t really go wrong swapping orange wine and rosé fairly interchangeably.

For pairing, they can range from being light and bright enough for a fish and veggie mix, or heavy enough to stand up to pork or even some kind of beef depending on the wine and meat preparation!

Where to Get Orange Wine

Most orange wine has historically come from Italy, made with grapes like Trebbiano, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio, and more. However, ambitious vintners all over the world are making noteworthy orange wines. We've even thrown a few in our natural wine club too. Check out your local natural wine shop, or click below to shop our available orange wines!

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  • Wow…wonderful post I really like this and one of my favorite reliable but affordable wines are the “Orange” wines. Many red and white varietals to choose from and very affordable. Thank you for sharing.
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