The three most popular winemaking styles across the world are Red, White and Rosé. Red Wine is made using red grapes, White Wine is made using green grapes or in some cases, red grapes are used to make White Wine by using only the juice of the grape and no contact with the skin. For example, Pinot Grigio from Italy and Champagne from France. Rosé Wine is made from Red grapes and the pink colour is obtained by letting the skin remain in contact with the juice for a short duration.
Now, we come to the exciting part. Orange Wine has been made for centuries, some 8000 odd years in Georgia, where the winemaking style has been around keeping it natural and minimal. Orange Wine is made using green grapes where the skin is kept in contact with the juice during fermentation. In some cases, the pips and stems are also added. In the case of White Wine, these are taken out immediately to create fresh and fruity flavour profiles that we normally associate with this style of winemaking.
The contact with the skin creates the colour in Orange Wine. In Georgia, this is actually referred to as Amber Wine as Orange Wine confuses people in believing that oranges are used. Most wines from this region are organic/biodynamic and many still cling on to the traditional way of making wine in Qvevri, which are large clay amphora buried in the ground to maintain temperatures.
This trend is now catching up and many winemakers from across the world are dabbling with this style. If you are used to having White and Red Wine, the Orange Wine might confuse your palate. The flavours are much bolder than White Wine but they retain their fruit / floral aromas which makes them different and unique.
The other wine that I find fascinating is Ramato - the copper coloured wine from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Italy. The winemaking style of Ramato which translates as copper in Italian, is that of Rosé Wine, but it has its own tradition. Italian Pinot Grigio is normally had around the world as an easy-drinking White Wine which’s popular but many scoff at it as being too simple and not interesting enough. Pinot Grigio makes good White Wine, but the grape is pinkish-blue in colour. Ramato winemakers steep the skins along with the juice to produce a far more interesting Pinot Grigio, that not just copper coloured but richer in flavour and structure.
Though the winemaking style is the same as a Rosé, Ramato is unique with its own flavour profile and a tradition that makes it stand apart. Wine is an evolved and complex subject, and the more one tries to understand and comprehend the subject, the lesser one feels one knows. But the real joy is in sipping and enjoying a glass. If you like a particular wine, then you like it. Doesn’t matter what everyone else says.
Orange Wine and Ramato are probably not available in India currently. At least not on a consistent basis, but given the current spotlight on them, it is a matter of time before the Indian winemakers dabble in these or some excellent imported versions are made available.
Enjoy sipping your favourite wine at home and stay safe!
Q. Which grape varieties yield the best wines?
A. You cannot make good quality wine out of bad quality grapes. Any good quality grape variety will offer the wine maker the potential to make great quality wine regardless of its pedigree or lineage. Sometimes, the wine maker gets it wrong.
Q. What is the difference between the old world and new world wines?
A. Old world denotes those mostly European countries where wine has been made for millennia and the new world denotes countries making up the remainder of the world's wine-producing countries.
Q. How to read wine labels correctly?
A. This gets confusing in some instances. Always look for the vintage (What year made) and grape variety/country of origin. The rest will just eat your mind.
Mohit Balachandran is a popular blogger and goes by the online name Chowder Singh. A restaurateur by profession, he worked with the Olive Group for 14 years. He also set up and ran SodaBottleOpenerWala and a Bombay Irani Café. Mohit now works as Chief Business Officer at EazyDiner