What the heck is Orange Wine?

Posted by David Bowley on

You might have noticed a new kid on the sommeliers block;
orange wine.

What is it?
Whose drinking it?
What does this wizardry taste like and should we all be pouring the pink down the sink this summer in favour of Orange?

Seen popping up in hipster establishments and fine dining across Australia, orange wine might be the new black. And no, I’m not talking about wine made from oranges. 

The orange wine I’m talking about is a shade different.

Orange wine is actually a white wine made in a red wine style. 
Imagine white wine and red wine had a baby. Nawwww. And in that baby making process, instead of taking the skins of the white grapes out of the juice the skins are left in contact with the juice for an extended period of time, sometimes up to a year!

This prolonged skin contact gives orange wine a ramped up dryness, structure and tannin (that puckering feeling) when compared to traditional wine.

It also gives it a unique colour. From pale gold to amber. And the taste? Not quite red, and not quite white. It has the lightness of a white wine but the puckering mouth feel and texture of a red. Don’t expect to taste something like chardonnay, or pinot noir.
Expect weird but wonderful.

Serving temperature is key for orange wine. Below room-temp but you don't want it straight from the fridge. Aim for 10 degrees. 

Orange wine is also the perfect partner with loads of amazing cuisine. Funky cheeses, slow cooked pork and anything involving walnuts are a great place to start. 

Winemakers in France and Georgia have been making orange wine for ages and the best known wines from their best producers are iconic amongst wine nerds. 
Over the last 5 years this style of wine is being emulated by many modern winemakers, including several here in Australia.

So where can you find it?
Most independent wine specialist will stock examples from Australia, France & Georgia. 
Check out our stockists page for a list. 


In a funny irony, winemakers who make orange wine and sell it as orange wine are getting into trouble with winemakers in Orange (NSW).

Because it is a registered grape growing region, the name Orange is protected under Australian Wine Law, so calling it an orange wine when it is not made from the Orange region is a crime! An interesting twist of linguistics...

Luckily, our friends at Swinging Bridge (Orange NSW) have made an orange wine from Orange. Well known for his sense of humour, Winemaker Tom Ward calls it Amber Wine. 

Read more →

Fact check: Does swirling your wineglass make you a wanker?

Posted by David Bowley on

Swirling the wine in your glass is perfectly natural. 

I hear you asking, 'why would I want to risk looking like a wanker or spilling wine on myself or others?'

Most wines are a little shy when they’re first poured into your glass.
Reluctant to reveal their charms a good swirl will break the ice.
Try it for yourself.
Don't swirl before your first sniff & taste. Then swirl and repeat.

That first inhale might leave you perplexed. A wine’s bouquet might not be readily evident. And when you taste, the flavours might not be as full on as you’d expected. This suggests the wine is a little closed.

It’s time to open it up by giving it a swirl. When you do, you should notice a big difference.

When you swirl, you introduce oxygen to the mix. This breaks down…or 'opens up'…the wine. Aromas start to emerge from the glass. Flavours unfurl. It’s a wondrous thing to behold and a cool comparison.

That’s why a little wine swirling makes a big difference.  

Excessive swirling won’t make you go blind. 
It won’t make hair grow on your palms. 
So don’t be afraid to do it in public.
Do it sitting down in a restaurant.
Do it standing up at a barbecue.

Just do it and enjoy the benefits.

Read more →

Simple tips for wine list navigation

Posted by David Bowley on

Public speaking.
Shane Warne’s Twitter account.
These things are scary. And for many of us, a restaurant wine list is just as scary. 

Red or white? How much should we spend? What the hell is Nerello Mascalese? 

Here are some tips for the next time you're negotiating a wine list.

Chat with the staff.

They probably know about wine or someone working there does. 
If there's a sommelier, ask for their opinions. They’re not only there for wine snobs. 
You’ll never know if you don’t ask them.

Wine Rules

'White wine with fish. Red wine with meat.'  
Let's be realistic and not treat ourselves and our friends like idiots. 
Like the fax machine, sometime around the Howard era that rule was outdated.
Now, match light wines with lighter dishes and more full-bodied wines with heavier food.
Lighter wines are typically Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Nero D'Avola.
Heaver wines might be Marsanne, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet or Sangiovese. 

Cheap and nasty.

People rarely order the cheapest wine. It's psychology. Restaurants know this. 
Usually the options at the lower end have the highest margins. Try to step up from the base level. You'll get vastly better wine and better value. 

Consider going against the grain.

Italian wines are big sellers in Italian restaurants.
French wines are big sellers in French restaurants.
Restaurants know this too. They’re marked up accordingly.
Go for wines from other regions and you could score some exceptional value

There is no wrong answer. 

When it comes to wine, if you can justify it, you're 100% correct. 

Read more →

Pinot Gris vs Pinot Grigio. The simple explanation.

Posted by David Bowley on

Same grape, different taste.

That’s the short simple answer.

Were you already aware of that? Well here’s the slightly expanded version.

Pinot Gris, as it’s known in France, and Pinot Grigio, as it’s known in Italy, are the same grape. Genetically, they’re identical twins. But, when it comes down to drinking them, these twins are about as different as Mark and Steve Waugh at the batting crease [excuse the cricket analogy].

Pinot Gris is Mark Waugh. Flamboyant, stylish and outgoing.
Grown in the Alsace region of Northern France, Pinot Gris is known for its fruity and sweet characters, and textured mouth feel. Check out our PG/15 Pinot Gris here. 

Pinot Grigio is Steve Waugh at the crease. Austere and reserved.
Not immediately showing off its finesse, Pinot Grigio is known for its mineral characters on the palate and a lighter feel in the mouth, making it a perfect palate-cleansing aperitif.

How can the same grape, grown in roughly the same part of the world, produce two different drinking experiences?

Climate and soil come into it, but harvesting is key as well. Italian wine makers tend to harvest Pinot Grigio before it reaches full ripeness. This means youthful acids are retained, making for a zesty, refreshing wine. Meanwhile, over in France, local winemakers are more laid back. They harvest riper grapes that have soaked up plenty of Alsatian sun. This is reflected in a more full-bodied wine with fruit depth on the palate.

When it comes to these wines made in Australia, the rules are somewhat blurred. Those in the know will tell you many Pinot Grigio wines out there are actually more 'Gris-like'. It's true. But stick with us small producers and you'll be in safe hands. 

So the next time you find yourself in the Pinot Gris vs Pinot Grigio debate, bring out the Waugh brothers analogy and smash their argument for six.

Read more →

Tuesday Test Kitchen // Chargrilled Pork Sirloin + Brussel Sprouts

Posted by David Bowley on

Part two of our look into the delicious but often overlooked morsels of these beasts. 
A Porcine predisposition is not uncommon, but in the Pork empire, Bacon is King. Belly is Queen & the Ribs might be the Prince.

This week as we tread the path less travelled and delve into seldom seen Sirloin. 

With these few simple steps and seasonal ingredients, you'll be;
Pork level - MASTER.  


Here's what you need. [serves 2]

pork sirloin steak x 2. approx 250g each. seasoned with salt and pepper. 
150g sliced leg ham. cut into small cubes.
75g danish fetta.
2 cloves garlic. sliced thin. 
4 sprigs thyme.
extra virgin olive oil.
500g brussel sprouts. base removed, blemished outer leaves removed then halved.
100g green beans. tips removed then halved.
2 tbs apple cider vinegar.
1 tsp fennel seed
sea salt flakes.
freshly ground black pepper.

Quick to prepare, this recipe requires a bit of juggling so please read through prior to starting. 

Using a griddle pan, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and place over medium to high heat. After a couple of minutes, place the pork sirloins gently onto the grill. Keep a close eye on these ensuring not to burn them. Adjust heat as required, 

While the steaks are on the grill prepare the green beans and brussel sprouts by steaming for 3 to 4 minutes to soften slightly.

A minute or two before the steaks are done, add the garlic and cubed pieces of ham to the hot grill. The aim is to get these very crispy for added texture.  

Remove the steaks to rest. Now in the same griddle pan add the brussel sprouts, beans, fennel seed, thyme, apple cider vinegar and a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil. Chargrill for 8 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the ham is crispy and garlic and brussel sprouts are well coloured. 

Plate the pork sirloin and pile the chargrilled brussel sprouts and beans on top ensuring to include the sauce at the bottom of the grill. 

Garnish with danish fetta, salt and pepper. 

On the table to match? 
Recent winner of Pinot Palooza Adelaide - Peoples Choice Award; PN/14 Pinot Noir

The grace and power together in this wine along with the sour cherry, woodsmoke and complex dried herb characters make it the perfect match for Pork.

Use the code TEST KITCHEN when you order 6 bottles or more and you'll get free shipping (Aus only); plus we will send you a limited edition VNTLPR snapback.  
Offer expires 29/9/2015.

Read more →