What makes a wine white or red? What’s the difference between rose and orange wine? What even is an orange wine? The biddies revisit the basics by breaking down these four wine styles, typically defined by amount of skin contact and winemaking techniques. Grab a glass and join us!

This episode includes:

  • Why you can make a white wine from red grapes
  • Different methods for making rose wine (you can actually blend a white wine and a red wine together)
  • The basics of orange wine

*This is an encore release of Episode 3 – Wine Styles! The same content but updated and re-recorded for higher quality sound.*


Listen here.

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Wine Folly

Study Notes for Intro to Wine Styles:

Things we can discuss:

What even is wine?

How its made – both styles

What we taste – acids/tanins/sweeness 

White Wine

Typically white wine is made using white grapes, with or without skin contact.

Basic process:

-grapes destemmed or left in clusters, then crushed

-sometime allowed to macerate: sit with skins for a few hours (adds complexity)

-pressed to remove skins and seeds

-juice ferments into wine

-can be aged in oak (heavier grapes like Chardonnay)

Exceptions: some wines are made from red grapes, just no skin contact

Chardonnay very versatile. Oak aging can give more body/tannin (wood has tannins too)

Cambria Estate Winery – female founded and led

Mother founded the business and now the two daughters run it

Santa Maria Valley (Central Coast) 


Red Wine

Juice from grapes is always white, color comes from maceration

Color and tannins come from maceration

Thicker skins need longer maceration time

Tannins: chemical compounds found in grape skin and seeds. Give wine more backbone and ageability


To make an orange wine, you first take white grapes, mash them up, and then put them in a large vessel (often cement or ceramic). Then, you typically leave the fermenting grapes alone for four days to sometimes over a year with the skins and seeds still attached.

This is a natural process that uses little to no additives, sometimes not even yeast. Because of all this, they taste very different from regular white wines and have a sour taste and nuttiness from oxidation.

Where Does it Come From?

The process of making Orange wine is ancient, but the reinvigoration of this process has only resurfaced in the last 20 odd years. Many modern-day winemakers look as far back as 5000 years in Caucasus (modern-day Georgia,–not the state) where wines fermented in large subterranean vessels called Qvevri (“Kev-ree”) that were originally closed with stones and sealed with beeswax.


Most orange winemaking can be found in northeastern Italy, along the border of Slovenia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Here you can find orange wines produced with the indigenous grapes of the region, including Sauvignon Vert (Friulano), Ribolla Gialla, and Pinot Grigio. The orange wine process was popularized in Italy by winemaker Josko Gravner who first attempted an orange wine in 1997.


Just over the border from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy is the region of Goriška Brda (“Gore-eesh-kah Barda”) in Slovenia, which has a long history of orange winemaking. The wine is very well-integrated here, and you’ll often see wines poured in standard glasses, like beer. There is another odd wine to be found here too, called Motnik. It is made in a natural method, in barrels that are disinfected by smoking herbs like rosemary, bay leaves, and sage.

Georgia is most famous for its qvevri-aged wines. Qvevri (aka Kvevri) were the first vessels ever to be used for wine fermentation, with archaeological findings supposedly dating back to 6000 BC. Qvevri are clay vessels lined with beeswax and completely buried under the ground where the temperature stays consistent throughout the year, allowing the wines to ferment in the natural coolness of the earth. The grape of choice from Georgia for natural qvevri wines is called Rkatsiteli (“Awr-kat-seh-telly”), which is known to produce wine with a deep red-orange hue.


In France, there is a region east of Burgundy that produces rich orange-hued wines. The Jura region (famous for Comté cheese) makes nutty-tart wines called Vin Jaune and Côtes du Jura, which both use the oxidative style of winemaking with a rare grape called Savagnin (and sometimes Chardonnay). While these wines use a slightly different winemaking method (pressing off the skins), the wines have a similar taste to orange wines.