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Because it’s nearly Halloween, we thought we’d ask: What makes orange wine orange?

A. Grapes coming into contact with beeswax during the aging process in special vats called qvevri 

B. The coloration of the special clone of pinot gris grapes that can be used to make orange wine

C. Fermented oranges added to the wine during aging

D. The juice from a variety of white grapes is fermented with the skins and stems when the wine is made

D.

In making so-called “orange wine”, rather than removing skins after white grapes are pressed (as is common when making white wine), the juice is fermented in contact with the skins and stems. During the enzymatic breakdown that follows long contact with skins and stems, juice that was formerly white is turned orange. This not only contributes to orange wine’s vivid hue, but also adds tannin as it does with red wine. Orange wine can trace its roots to the Republic of Georgia where it has been made for over 6,000 years, often in qvevri (pronounced KEV-ree), which are large clay pots that are used for fermentation. After being sealed (often with beeswax), qvevri are buried and left underground for about six months.

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