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What are orange wines ?

No, orange wines aren’t made from oranges, they are white wines that are a result of very unusual production process.

White wines, compared to red ones, are fermented without contact wth skin. The grape juice is separated from skin during the squeezing of the juice and this two parts never see each other again.

In a new winemaking trend, the grape juice from the white grapes is allowed to ferment some or full time with the grape skins. Grape skins contain tannins as well as natural colour and flavour compounds, that are passed to the grape juce. When left to ferment with the skins, the wine becomes less transparent and become yellow in the colour, later turning to the orange hues.

Wines created that way are more full bodied, with more pronounced aromas and flavours. They are mostly made dry.

What differences them from classic white wines, apart from colour and aromas are the tannins. Standard white wine can have tannins that result from aging in an oak barrels, but don’t have them from the skins.

Orange wines are very complex and therefore not recommended for the begginers, but after some time spent in tastng wines, they are worth trying, becouse of expanding popularity among wine community.

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Appassimento, the key to Italy’s divine wines

After you try them, there is no coming back. This concentration of flavours and rich texture is simply irresistible both in dry and sweet wines.

Apassimento is an ancient method of vinification. Harvested grapes are laid on a straw mates to dry on the sunshine. During this process, that can last several months, water from the grape evaporates. This results in 40-70% reduction of grape weight, lowering the quantity of wine that can be produced from it significantly.

Vine made from this grapes (technically raisins) have less tannins, are richer in aromas, higher alcohol content and tend to have more toffee, nutty, brown sugar and fig taste. This way, the Vin Santo, Recioto, Amarone and some Malaga wines are made. Wines produced by this method can be both sweet (by interrupting the fermentation) or dry (by fermenting all the sugar content till the end).

Raisins, that are made by apassimento method, take very long time to ferment, typically about 35-50 days. By drying grapes thus reducing the amount of grape juice, that can be extracted and fermented, this method typically leads to smaller production and higher price tag that follows it in exchange of very concentrated aromas and flavours. Modern version of this method uses special rooms, with artificial heating to assure faster grape drying.

Apassimento method is autochthonous for Itally and there You can find the most wines made with this method.

Check my tastings of wines made with that method:

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How You can enrich your every wine experience? – My tasting method

Simple, easy and quick guide to tasting wine with joy

To elevate Your wine experience, no matter, what wine you are drinking, consider applying these steps to your tasting routine:

1. Look at the wine. Enjoy its color, does it have any interesting hues? Think, how wine of this color can taste and smell. (quick tip: place a white paper behind the glass, to see a color without background affecting your perception)

2. Smell (without swirling). Hold wine glass at approximately 45 degrees angle to your nose. Sniff the upper and lower rim of the glass, do You feel the difference in smell?

3. Smell after swirling the glass a few times. Does this action release some new aromas?

4. Finally, it’s time to taste your wine 😉

5. Make notes. Write down aromas and taste as well as wine color, so You can later compare it to other bottles and bring back memories. Aditionally, wines change their aroma characteristics when exposed to oxygen or temperature changee, so you can track this journey with notes.

Want to see it in practice ?
Check my tasting notes here:

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How to properly store a bottle of wine?

Most of the wine bottles, about 95% of them by volume, are made to be drank in 2-4 years after bottling. If you have bought a one, that can last longer, this is how to mature it properly:

If it has a cork – store it horizontally. If it’s closed by a screw cap or glass closure, standard vertical position is the best. Port, Sherry and other wines (mostly fortified) that has a plug that looks like hybrid of cork and plastic cap – vertically. Always store every type of wine in a cool dark place, because sunlight tends to destroy wine very quickly, especially when it is in a white bottle.

If You think about cellaring your wine with natural cork, keeping it at 55 – 59 °F (12 – 15 °C), horizontal position and 55 – 75% humidity is the best option. Other closure types are typically used for a wine with a shorter shelf life or the ones that should keep away oxygen flow from and into the bottle (especially white or rose wines). These wines aren’t meant for a long-term storage, so humidity doesn’t count here.

Why is it important ?

Standing in a wine corner of a supermarket can be a little confusing, when you think about longer term storage of a wine. There are bottles, that can sit on a market shelf for some 2-3 years, so logic guess is that managers know what they are doing and store this wine in a best way, so it will be at its best state, when you open it in Your home, yes? Well, the proper answer is “it depends”. Vertical storage lets pack more bottles in a small shelf, so logistic advantages are clear. Typically, the natural cork, that is used to seal wine bottles, tends to dry out in contact with oxygen and can spoil your beloved liquid in a process.

When bottle is standing upright, the oxygen attacks bottle from both directions, from the inside and outside. This leads to a situation, when it no longer protects the wine from the hazards of environment, crumbles and these crumbs tend to fall into a bottle, resulting in a wine corruption.

There is a warning sign, when you cut a foil and see a dry cork. After inserting a corkscrew into a cork, you hear that it squeaks loudly while rotating. Be aware, that in this situation tiny parts of cork can fall into a bottle. When you notice them or suspect that they might already have fallen, after opening a bottle pour them through a strainer.

There is some good news too, producents are also aware of this problem and use plastic or conglomerate cork replacements, that have no problem with drying out. Plastic or steel screw caps are unharmed by the oxygen and therefore are a great option for a wines, that shouldn’t have contact with it (light white and rose for example).  

The second good news is that 2-3 years of shelf life shouldn’t be enough to spoil that wine because as far as about 90 % of wine is made to be drunk young, it has mediocre impact on average wine drinker. What’s more, the plastic cork replacements and screw caps aren’t affected by the drying of cork, as well as cork taint, that I will write about in another article.

However, when you decide to buy some serious red dry wine, that you want to open after 10 Years of cellaring, for some special occasion, be aware that proper storing conditions can be a difference between big celebration and big disappointment.

Most of premium and middle quality wines have natural corks for two reasons: prestige and cellaring potential. Remember that sun is a more devastating enemy to Your grape juice, the UV rays break down chemical compounds in wine that leads to unpleasant taste and smell so always shield them from a direct sunlight as well as don’t buy bottles standing in shop windows.

Now You know how to handle that bottle that You brought home for a planned dinner and maybe You are now thinking about starting a little wine collection. Let me know in a comment down below.  

Want to know more ?