How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine

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Si­mon J. Woolf, In­ter­link Pub­lish­ing (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $35 (304pp), 978-1-62371-966-1

For all its au­then­tic, ar­ti­sanal, true-to-the-earth talk, to­day’s wine in­dus­try is high tech, and the sci­ence-driven ap­proach to qual­ity in the vine­yards and wineries around the world has surely made these the glory days for wine lovers. But let’s not for­get that wine is an­cient. Nu­mer­ous ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies re­veal the highly ad­vanced skills of pre­his­toric wine­mak­ers.

Let’s also not over­look that wine­mak­ers past and present con­tin­u­ally ex­per­i­ment with their tech­niques in or­der to im­prove the wines made from the grapes grown in their vicin­ity. A maker of red wine in Bur­gundy, for ex­am­ple, might need to de­velop new meth­ods should she be trans­planted to the white grape-grow­ing Greek is­lands. Or not. Out of ig­no­rance, she may just crush those un­fa­mil­iar white grapes and leave the juice in con­tact with the grape skins and pips for weeks or months while the fer­men­ta­tion process takes place, just as she did with red grapes in Bur­gundy. Sur­pris­ingly, all that skin pig­ment would cause an am­ber or orange color to the fin­ished wine, dis­tinct aro­mas, and in­tense fla­vor.

In fact, that “make white like red” ap­proach is the world’s old­est wine-mak­ing tra­di­tion, but it went out of fash­ion, and was nearly for­got­ten un­til its re­cent resur­gence at wineries in the Cau­ca­sus and around the Adri­atic. In Am­ber Rev­o­lu­tion: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine, Si­mon J. Woolf tells the fas­ci­nat­ing tale of this an­cient wine, and also pro­files nearly two hun­dred am­ber-wine pro­duc­ers around the world.

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