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What are “Orange” and Natural Wines?

What are “Orange” and Natural Wines?

If you're already a fan of Orange and Natural wines and you've been by the shop to grab your favorite, you may have been dismayed to not find it in the usual spot on the shelf.


Fear not! We've moved and expanded our selection of this increasingly popular category of wines. They're now located on the back, "Cabernet Wall," on the right-hand side, underneath the Merlots.


If you on the other hand have no idea what we're talking about or have been hearing about Orange and Natural Wines and wanted to try them, we've got you covered!


So what is an "Orange Wine" and what makes a wine "Natural?"


Orange Wines, sometimes called "amber" or "skin contact wines" are basically white wines that are made like red wines. Instead of filtering off the grape skins as one would usually do when making a white wine, the skins and pulp are left to macerate in the juice picking up extra flavor components and color. NO ORANGES INVOLVED!

These wines are often described as robust bold and "funky," with honeyed aromas of jackfruit (a fleshy tropical fruit), hazelnut, Brazil nut, bruised apple, wood varnish, linseed oil, juniper, sourdough, and dried orange rind.

On the palate, they’re big, dry, and even have tannin like a red wine, often with a sourness similar to fruit beer.


Most Orange Wines will fit into the "Natural Wine" category, but not all Natural Wines are Orange Wines. There are plenty of Red Wines that fit into the Natural category and also white wines that aren't made with extended skin contact that can also be called Natural. Called Natural is the correct term because there is no legal definition of "Natural Wine" and no certification process. It basically means that the wines are made with organically grown grapes, with no additives or chemicals, utilizing the native yeasts, with the minor exception of a small dose of sulfur dioxide.


But how can it be "Natural" if there's sulfites?! After all they've got that "contains sulfites" government warning label on every bottle!


Sulfur, sulfites and sulfates are everywhere and in everything! Sulfites are measured in parts per million (ppm) and a single serving of dried fruit... 3500ppm, an order of french fries...1900ppm. Your typical wine has around 80ppm and by law cannot exceed 330ppm. There is about 1% of the population that is sensitive/allergic to sulfites, but if you don't already have a laundry list full of foods that you can't eat because of sulfites, then you've got nothing to worry about from the sulfites in your wine. Want more info on sulfites and the "Contains Sulfites" warning label? Check out this really great article at Bon Apetit: