Why We’re Drinking Orange Wine All Autumn

Kenzie wine New Zealand Hawke's Bay

We love drinking wine seasonally, and based on what you’ve all been buying, you do too. Summer rolls around and it’s all about fresh aromatic whites, Pet-Nats and light chilled reds. In winter, those warming, heartier reds are the natural go to. But what about Autumn? As we hang on to the last of the warm days, we also start settling in for cooler nights. We’ve had our fill of fresh summer whites, but aren't quite ready for winter reds. Enter orange wine. For us it’s the perfect autumnal drink. Let us explain why, but first a reminder of what orange wine is. 

What is Orange Wine?

For a deeper dive into all things orange, read our explainer here. In brief though, orange wine is white wine made like red wine. Once harvested, white grape varieties are given skin contact during fermentation (and sometimes for periods before and after). Colour, aromatic compounds and phenolics are extracted from the skins, just like in red wine making. Orange wines are being made in wine regions all over the world, and from all manner of white varieties.

Why Orange Wine for Autumn?

As if the beautiful amber tones of these wines isn’t enough to inspire great drinking at this time of year. There’s also something satisfyingly autumnal about the flavours and shape of orange wine to taste.


By virtue of having spent time on skins, a host of aromatic compounds that are concentrated in the skins are extracted into the fermenting juice. This can mean, depending on the variety, a greater intensity of fruit and florals. It can introduce aromatics we don’t usually associate with white wine, like orange rind, ginger, sweet spices and lifted botanicals similar to gin or vermouth. These flavour complexities just scream Autumn to us. 


As you might know, the phenolics that build the tannin structure of red wine are extracted from the skins, they’re not in the juice. These compounds contribute to the dry, firm taste that we associate with red wine. White grape varieties have phenolics in their skins too, not in the same quantities as red grapes, but they are extracted with skin contact. They exhibit themselves as pithy quality, or a black tea-like dryness. We love the grippy, structural contribution they make to orange wine. It brings the sense of a more robust palate to satisfy our changing autumnal tastes. 


With classic white wines, their palate structure is built in part by their acidity. That’s the citrusy, sour taste that we find so refreshing in warmer months. The main acid in grapes is tartaric acid, and with skin contact this gets bound up with potassium that’s concentrated in the skins. So skin contact white will naturally have their acidity lowered. This can contribute to orange wines tasting rounder and softer. It can allow the phenolics and fruit weight to take the lead in structuring the wine, to match our hankering for richer, heartier food at this time of year.

Try Them For Yourself

Within the world of orange wine there’s a wide range of different styles. This is dependent on the usual factors, like where the grapes are grown and what varieties it’s made from, but also how long the period of skin contact is. Exploring them is a treat, and we welcome you to do so this Autumn with some of our current favourites from New Zealand and further afield.

Hawkes Bay - Kenzie Beautiful Strangers 2023
Martinborough - Huntress Waihonga 2023
Marlborough - Melange Blanc 2022
Australia - Unico Zelo Esoterico 2021
Italy - L’Acino Bianco 2020