I did two very important things today after work: I got a manicure and I bought wine. The two activities had one thing in common, ORANGE. I picked this reddish orange color for my nails that turned out to be called “A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find” which I can only hope is a play on the Flannery O’Connor short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, one of my favorites since high school. The wine I picked up was the Pinot Grigio Ramato, an orange wine, from Antonutti Vini, a winery based in the Grave del Friuli region of Italy. Grave del Friuli is described by Antonutti Vini as being far less glamorous than many of the better known wine growing regions in Italy. But hell, this Kansas native did a quick Google image search and the region looks pretty bomb to me, being situated between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. It is a region that has been producing orange wines for hundreds of years.
I happened upon this wine because I was complaining to the owner of Underdog about how it’s so hard to find orange wines in Kansas City. He was like “Oh, well I have one, it’s just not on the shelf.” I said, “Ooh, gimme.” Truth be told, if I had seen this on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have known it was an orange wine since it’s in a dark bottle. That’s why you should always ask for help if you’re looking for something specific, especially in a wine shop-- they know their shit, at least they should. I’ve had my share of bad experiences in a particular wine shop, but I just don’t go to that one anymore.
Skin-contact (a.k.a. orange) wines are simply white wines made in the same style as reds-- the skins of the grapes aren’t removed immediately and the wines take on an orange-hue that can be anywhere on the spectrum of golden to deep orange. The Pinot Grigio Ramato is the color of golden wheat, which is possibly the most Kansan thing I’ve ever said. It is really lovely. The bouquet is super fragrant, smelling brightly of lemon zest and fresh ginger tea. On the palate, it is tart and dry, tasting like lemon grass with notes of canary melon on the finish. This definitely has a heavier body than your average Pinot Grigio, so if you are a white wine nay-sayer because you prefer a tannic red, give this a shot. Orange wines tend to be more tannic than their white counterparts.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge white wine drinker. That being said, I will drink a Pét-Nat or a funky unfiltered white any day, but you won’t catch me slinging back the Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio like most people tend to during the summer. Orange wine is great for people like me, who like the idea of white wine but long for the fuller body of a red. You know I love my light-bodied reds for the summer, but orange wine is a great addition to my collection. Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to find. However, we change that by creating demand. If enough people demand weird and funky shit, restaurants and wine shops are bound to oblige. And if we patronize those places that take chances on the weird shit, they’ll be able to keep up the good work.
So there you go, a primer on orange wine. Go forth and drink. Come to think of it, I think the Flannery O’Connor story I was remembering was “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”. Whatever, that’s too long a title for a nail polish anyway.