Skin Fermented Whites, commonly referred to as Orange Wines are becoming a very big fad in the wine scene across the world. While many Niagara producers have started to join in on the bandwagon, it is still an incredibly niche market to tap into. Orange wines are for those real geeky wine nerds, who like all things different, unconventional, and downright weird. Orange wines are a new thing in Ontario, with the VQA recognizing Orange Wines as a legitimate wine style for labeling in the summer of 2017.
There are certain requirements that need to be met in order to label a wine as 'Skin Fermented White'. The wine must be exclusively made with white or pink skinned grapes that are already permitted by VQA. 100% of the grapes must be fermented with skins for at least 10 days. Alcohol percentage can not be less than 7.0% or greater than 14.9%. Skin-Fermented White must be somewhere on the label, and if it is a single varietal wine it must displayed on the bottle.
Typical grape varieties used are Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer. Due to the nature of fermenting on skins, there is a great deal more flavour and tannin extraction from the skins and seeds. Typically Skin-Fermented White wines will have pronounced herbal and tea-like characteristic, and a bigger, more astringent mouth feel to them compared to classic white wines.
As was discussed, Skin-Fermented White wines are not for everyone, but they are something totally unique and a worth trying at least once in your life. You never know, you might find that you love them!