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July 12, 2018

Orange wine is a sommelier’s secret weapon

In the lead up to The Fruitful Pursuit's Not Quite White event, CityMag spoke with two Adelaide sommeliers about the many benefits of orange wine.

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  • Story: Johnny von Einem

For Adelaide sommeliers Liinaa Berry and Nikki Friedli, the discovery of orange wine was a formative revelation.


Not Quite White is happening at Chateau Apollo on Saturday and Sunday, 4-5 August. For more information, see the event page. One- and two-day passes are now available for purchase here.

The Fruitful Pursuit have also collaborated with venues around Adelaide to give you a chance to get to know orange wine prior to the event. The participating venues and the wines they’re pouring are:

Bar Torino
Live Wire ‘Smash It’ and Sigurd ‘White Blend’

Bistro Blackwood
Cape Jaffa ‘Samphire’ and Architects of Wine ‘Moscato Giallo’

Cry Baby
Brave New Wine ‘Doppelgänger’ and Freehand ‘Cloudy Sav’

Gondola Gondola
Moonlit Forest ‘SC Pinot Gris and Old Mate Wine ‘It’s Lit’

Peel St Restaurant
Kalleske ‘Plenarius’ and Whistler Wines ‘Back to Basics’

Pink Moon Saloon
Smallfry ‘Tangerine Dream’ and La Violetta ‘Ü Levre D’Orange’

Frederick Stevenson ‘Marsanne Roussanne’ and Ravensworth ‘Pinot Gris’

Ravensworth ‘Seven Months’ and Delinquente ‘Hell White’

Shiny ‘Pinot Gris’ and Arfion ‘Fever’

“I was first introduced to orange wine when I was on a date, funnily enough. I was out with a guy and he ordered a bottle of the Kalleske Plenarius,” Nikki recalls.

“At this point I’d just stopped my viticulture degree at uni, because I was kind of getting wedged between this whole clash of worlds. Adelaide University was very much pushing a very classic, old school style of winemaking.

“And so orange wine was a part of this whole new unexplored avenue that I’d never seen before, and it was really exciting, and I loved the flavour and the texture and it captured my imagination.”

There is an art to pairing food and wine; it involves not only reading the plate at the table – protein, vegetable and sauce – but also the people – mood, desire and personal taste.

As with any art, restriction necessitates creativity, and the spectrum of flavours sommeliers have at hand, while vast in nuance, distills down to red or white (and sparkling and rosé, if you’re being generous). This, combined with an outdated notion that one should not mix red meat with white wine (and vice versa), makes the job of a somm wanting to make a lasting impression all the more difficult.

“That’s so passé,” Liinaa says dismissively, “because first of all, it’s not about the protein, it’s about the sauce.

“You can have a fish, a mullet, and say it’s an oily fish, it’s a little bit more of a meaty fish, and what if you decided that you wanted to cook it with a sauce that was made from a jus and perhaps you wanted to put some truffles in there – you probably want to have that with a pinot noir now.”

Shobbrook Wines’ Giallo paired with turmeric hummus, raw and fermented baby vegetables, and chickpea bark, courtesy of 2KW’s Trent Lymn.

Through her own discovery of orange wine (a skin contact sauvignon blanc from Lucy Margaux), Liinaa added a versatile colour to her palette, and one guaranteed to elicit a reaction from her guests.

“Orange wine is amazing to pair with, because you keep getting surprised by how it works,” she says.

“In the spectrum of aromas, you can go from citrusy preserved lemons, aniseed fennel, and then maybe a bit of brown spice, and then you can have those perhaps going more like apricot – you can have all of that in one orange wine, depending on what food you’re eating, because each food is going to bring something else out of that wine.”

Due to the extended period of maceration, orange wine as a style is a sturdier, more structured and tannic than white, but juicier than a red, and is therefore able to stand up against whatever salt, acid, fat and heat a chef can throw at it.

Despite its versatility, though, it’s still yet to crossover into mainstream dining culture.

“It can feel a little bit in that same box as rosé, when you go to a restaurant and there’s only like two rosés on the list. But that’s just because people aren’t often angling for it,” Nikki says.

“Orange wine drinkers are still people who are already at least a little bit initiated into the world of wine generally… [Someone] who is curious and adventurous and wants to try all of these different and new things, they’re always looking for something a little bit more experiential.”

It is Liinaa’s hope that through the upcoming orange wine celebration, Not Quite White, where she will emcee on the final day, the broader public will have a chance to familiarise themselves with the wine style.

“To come to an event is when you’re actually going to taste a maximum of wines and have this interaction where you can discuss with sommeliers, with other people, with winemakers, and basically take home a memorable experience,” she says.

“Definitely I’d [like] to see more people buying it from bottle shops to begin with, and for customers going to restaurants being like “I actually tried that at this event, do you have anything like that on your list?’

“And then that will also make sommeliers be a little bit more on the lookout… That means I can actually be a little bit more adventurous with my wine list.”

Shobbrook Wines’ Giallo paired with Kangarilla maron, tomato and saffron bisque, and verde oil, also courtesy of 2KW’s Trent Lymn.

Motherlode Nuggeteria, who broke into Adelaide’s food scene at this year’s Fringe Festival, will provide eats during the event, running from 4-5 August, but The Fruitful Pursuit has also pulled together a collective of like-minded bars and restaurants who will each place two orange wines on their wine list from the Not Quite White lineup, starting this Friday, 13 July.

Punters looking for a preview of what will be available on the day can stop by Bar Torino, Bistro Blackwood, Cry Baby, Gondola Gondola, Peel St Restaurant, Pink Moon Saloon, Proof°, Sunny’s, and Udaberri.

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