How To Make Orange Wine

Orange wine, also known as amber wine, is a unique and intriguing style of wine that dates back thousands of years. As a wine enthusiast and avid home winemaker, I have always been fascinated by …

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Orange wine, also known as amber wine, is a unique and intriguing style of wine that dates back thousands of years. As a wine enthusiast and avid home winemaker, I have always been fascinated by this ancient winemaking technique. In this article, I will guide you step-by-step on how to make orange wine from scratch, sharing my personal experiences and insights along the way.

Gathering the Ingredients

The first step in making orange wine is to gather all the necessary ingredients. You will need:

  1. Oranges: Choose organic oranges with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Aim for about 2-3 pounds of oranges per gallon of wine.
  2. White Wine Grapes: It is essential to use white wine grapes with a high level of acidity. Varieties like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, or Pinot Grigio work well.
  3. Yeast: Select a wine yeast strain that enhances the fruity flavors and aromas of the oranges.
  4. Camden Tablets: These tablets are used to neutralize any unwanted bacteria or wild yeasts.
  5. Water: Use purified or filtered water to ensure a clean and neutral base for your wine.
  6. Sugar: This is optional but can be added to increase the alcohol content and balance the acidity of the oranges.

Preparing the Oranges

Once you have gathered all the ingredients, it’s time to prepare the oranges. Start by washing them thoroughly to remove any dirt or pesticides. Next, zest the oranges using a grater or zester, being careful to avoid the bitter pith. Set the zest aside for later use.

After zesting, juice the oranges using a citrus juicer or by hand. Strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds, and set it aside.

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Crushing and Pressing the Grapes

The next step is to crush and press the white wine grapes. If you have access to a grape crusher and press, you can use them. However, as a home winemaker, I like to use a more hands-on approach.

First, remove the stems from the grapes and place them in a clean and sanitized bucket. Using a clean and sanitized potato masher or your hands, gently crush the grapes. You want to release the juice while keeping the grape skins intact.

Once the grapes are crushed, it’s time to press them. You can use a clean and sanitized nylon straining bag or cheesecloth to contain the grape skins. Squeeze or press the bag to extract as much juice as possible, being careful not to break the skins and release any bitterness.

Macerating the Juice

Now that you have both the orange juice and the freshly pressed grape juice, it’s time to combine them for maceration. Pour the grape juice into a clean and sanitized fermentation vessel, such as a glass carboy or food-grade plastic bucket. Add the orange juice to the vessel, along with the orange zest.

If desired, this is the time to add sugar to the mixture. Start with a small amount and taste the juice to see if it needs further sweetening.

At this stage, it’s crucial to add Camden tablets to the mixture to prevent unwanted bacterial fermentation. Crush the tablets and dissolve them in a small amount of water before adding them to the juice. Follow the recommended dosage on the package.

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Fermentation and Aging

Cover the fermentation vessel with a clean and sanitized lid or stopper fitted with an airlock. The airlock will allow carbon dioxide to escape while preventing any oxygen or contaminants from entering.

Place the vessel in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature between 60-70°F (15-21°C). Allow the wine to ferment for at least two weeks, or until the specific gravity reaches around 1.000.

Once fermentation is complete, transfer the wine to a secondary fermentation vessel, leaving behind any sediment or solids. Fit the vessel with an airlock and continue aging the wine for at least six months to a year. During this time, the flavors will develop, and the wine will clarify.

Bottling and Enjoying

After aging, it’s time to bottle your homemade orange wine. Use clean and sanitized bottles, and if desired, add a crushed Camden tablet to each bottle to prevent any residual fermentation.

Fill the bottles using a siphon or a clean and sanitized funnel, leaving a small amount of headspace. Cork or cap the bottles tightly, and store them in a cool and dark place for additional aging if desired.

Now comes the best part – enjoying your homemade orange wine! Give the wine some time to settle after bottling, at least a few weeks. Serve it slightly chilled and savor the unique flavors and aromas of the oranges and grapes that you brought together with your own hands.

Conclusion

Making orange wine is a labor of love that requires patience and attention to detail. By following this step-by-step guide and adding your personal touches, you can create a truly exceptional wine that showcases the vibrant flavors of oranges and white wine grapes. Cheers to your winemaking adventure!

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John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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