Read on for our wine expert Kate Hawking's ultimate guide to orange wine, including food pairings and the top picks of 10 best orange wines to buy. For more like this, check out all our wine guides and reviews, including the best cava to buy, best pinot noir to buy, the lowdown on Italian sparkling wine and oaked wine, as well as our top picks of the best wine decanters.


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Once there was just white, red and rosé. Now, orange wines are on the lips of trend-setting wine drinkers everywhere.

Whereas white wine is made by pressing grapes and immediately transferring the juice to a fermentation vessel, red wine ferments the juice, skins and s1914eeds all together. This adds colour (most red grapes actually have white flesh) along with extra flavour and tannins – the bitter, astringent compounds that are also found in tea and which lend structure and texture. Orange wine, also known as amber or skin-contact wine, is essentially a white wine made the same way as a red.

But orange wine is nothing new; in fact, it is the original style of wine. In Georgia, evidence of wine-making dates back 8,000 years – the oldest in the world. Wine back then was made with whole bunches of grapes in huge clay pots. Called qvevri, they were the height of a man and were buried upright in the ground.

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Qvevri are still commonly used in Georgia, and are increasingly adopted by winemakers across the world. But they are not essential to the making of orange wine. Some orange wine will stay in contact with the skins for only hours or days; some for weeks or even months. The longer the skin contact, the more pronounced the orange characteristics – a crunchy texture along with pleasing sourness, scents of apricots, peaches and/or quince, and a gentle, savoury spice.

This complexity means they appeal to those who, like me, generally prefer red to white wines, while white-wine drinkers enjoy them for their freshness (orange wine is best served slightly chilled). The more extreme orange wines might contain mouth-puckering tannins and can smell quite funky, almost cidery, especially if they’ve been made with natural wine-making techniques (fermented with native yeasts and having little or no added sulphites or filtration). These are for the die-hard fans. Newcomers to orange wines should start with less challenging examples, such as those recommended here, and approach them with an open mind to be seduced by their charms.

Orange wine food pairings

What really makes these wines so user-friendly is their versatility with food. Orange wines are great with anything cheesy – a classic match is with khachapuri, an easy-to-make Georgian bread containing cooked cheese. The astringency in orange wine counters rich and fatty dishes (they are perfect with roast pork or anything deep-fried) while their depth of flavour sits really well with North African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Korean spices, as well as with Eastern European cuisines.


The best orange wines to buy at a glance

  • Best English orange wine: Litmus Orange Bacchus, £17.49
  • Best modern English wine: Gérard Bertrand Orange Gold 2020, £18.99
  • Best orange wine for beginners: Recas Estate Orange Natural Wine 2020, £12.99
  • Best budget orange wine: Rigal Vin Orange, £6.50
  • Best balanced orange wine: Macerao Naranjo Orange Wine, £8.99
  • Best for floral notes: White Lies, £17.45
  • Best supermarket orange wine: M&S Tbilvino Qvevris Orange Wine, £10.50
  • Best intense orange wine: Mother Rock Liquid Skin, £25
  • Best funky orange wine: Ciello Baglio Antico Catarratto, £18
  • Best blowout orange wine: Staffelter Hof ‘Little Bastard’, £29

The best orange wines to buy 2023

Litmus Orange Bacchus

Litmus Orange Bacchus

Best English orange wine

English grapes are used to make this nutty, herbaceous wine that’s tinged with a little white pepper. White bacchus grapes are fermented on their skins, then a little oak-aged pinot noir with no skin contact is added to the blend. Generous fruit with a little grippy astringency adds complexity to this really drinkable wine. Great with roast pork or dishes with some gentle spice.

Available from:
Grape Britannia (£17.49)

Gérard Bertrand Orange Gold 2020

Gérard Bertrand Orange Gold 2020

Best modern English wine

Gérard Bertrand was a star rugby player who returned to his family wine business on the unexpected death of his father, and now makes immaculate biodynamic wines combining traditional methods and modern technology. This is his first orange wine, a blend of southern French grapes that give a great balance of warm apricots, jasmine and a whisper of cigar-box woodiness. Really pure and poised; a fresh and modern orange wine that’s very easy to like.

Available from:
Ocado (£18.99)

Recas Estate Orange Natural Wine 2020

Recas Estate Orange Natural Wine 2020

Best orange wine for beginners

This blend of aromatic grapes ticks all the natural wine boxes – organic grapes, native yeasts, no added sulphur – as well as a proportion of the wine being fermented in on-trend clay amphorae. Made by Romania’s biggest and most forward-thinking winery, it’s a great introduction to orange wine that won’t scare any horses. Clean and dry with pretty notes of honeysuckle, pears, mandarin and fennel, it’s really versatile with food and is an ace match with roast chicken.

Available from:
Laithwaites (£12.99)

Rigal Vin Orange

Rigal Vin Orange

Best budget orange wine

Approachable, well-priced orange wine with notes of russet apples, roast nuts and a little spice.

Available from:
Morrisons (£6.50)

Macerao Naranjo Orange Wine

waitrose orange wine bottle

Best balanced orange wine

A well-balanced orange wine, delicate, floral and slightly honeyed, with flavours and aromas of baked apples, white flowers and gentle spice. Try with our slow-cooked pork, apricot and tamarind stew.

Available from:
Waitrose (£8.99)

White Lies

A bottle of White Lies wine

Best for floral notes

Copper-coloured pinot gris with a little skin contact – ripe peachy fruit and pretty floral notes.

Available from:
Nouveau Wine (£17.45)

M&S Tbilvino Qvevris Orange Wine

A bottle of Tbilvino Qvevris Orange Wine 2020

Best supermarket orange wine

Rkatsiteli is the grape in this very approachable qvevri wine with notes of tangerine, quince and savoury spice.

Available from:
Ocado (£10.50)

Mother Rock Liquid Skin


Best intense orange wine

Wonderfully energetic chenin blanc given crunch and savoury depth by leaving the grapes on the skins after they’re pressed to extract extra flavour and texture.

Available from:
Forest Wines (£25)

Ciello Baglio Antico Catarratto

Best funky orange wine

One for lovers of funky orange natural wines, this is fermented with native yeasts in contact with the grape skins, and bottled with no filtration. Unashamedly rustic and wild, it’s got lovely notes of ginger and warming spice along with tannic and crunchy bruised-apple fruit. Great with robust flavours; try it with Sicilian pasta dishes or even a curry.

Available from:
Gnarly Vines (£18)

Staffelter Hof ‘Little Bastard’

A bottle of natural orange wine against a white backdrop

Best blowout orange wine

An unusual blend of riesling, sauvignon blanc, müller thurgau and muscat, this natural orange wine is slightly cloudy but joyously fresh. Floral and spritzy with citrus zest.

Available from:
Modal Wines (£29)


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Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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