Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orange you glad you tried an orange wine

The other day I was perusing the wine list of Flour + Water looking for a wine to go with our appetizers.

Flour + Water is a trendy Italian restaurant in San Francisco's Mission district that specializes in home made pasta and pizza. Its wine list is short but offers an interesting selection of Italian wines. In particular, they have a section between the whites and the rosés that I had never seen before. They called it Arancio or Orange in Italian.

Orange wines are actually the opposite of rosé wines. Whereas rosés are made with red grapes with just enough skin contact to produce a pink color, orange wines are made with white grapes that macerate for some time in contact with their skins, leaving the wine with a distinctive orange-amber hue. Skin-fermented orange wines may seem like a new trend but this winemaking style believed to have originated in Georgia thousands of years ago and was not uncommon in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region of Italy in the 1950s.

We ordered a glass of 2009 Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Rusticum to give it a try. A blend of Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malvasia and Grechetto, the wine is produced by the Sisters of the Cistercian order at their monastery in Vitorchiano, in the Lazio appellation north of Rome. It had a deep amber color with some tannins, dried herb flavors and a nutty finish, reminiscent of a Sherry. My friend didn't like it and we concluded that like Sherry, orange wine is an acquired taste. As for me, I thought it worked pretty well with our appetizer, a tuna conserva with artichoke, tonnato & venetian battered cardoons.

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