Wine Chronicles: Cara Cara Orange Wine

Valencia Orange Country Wine in GlassesOne of my go-to sources for recipes as a starting point for many of my homemade country wines is the little purple book that came with my winemaking equipment starter kit: Raymond Massaccesi’s “Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook”. Typically, when I try a new recipe, I follow it exactly as it is written; the next time around, all bets are off! One of the first recipes I tried was for Orange Wine…oranges are delicious as flavoring for secondary ferments, so I guessed that the wine would also be a winner. And it was. It turned out almost cordial-like: a beautiful amber color reminiscent of sherry, with a pleasing warmth and complex flavor. It didn’t scream “orange”, but the mystery of it made it even more enjoyable.

My most recent batch uses the juicy Cara Cara orange instead of Valencia (my choice for the first batch). While Massaccesi’s recipe calls for peeling 8-9 oranges and segmenting them, this time I reamed each of the oranges and strained the pulp from the liquid into the mesh bag that held the chopped raisins and chopped peel. I also used dark raisins instead of the golden raisins he calls for, simply because I had dark raisins on hand. A final deviation is that I used champagne yeast rather than Montrachet this time, and only because I had a partial packet sitting in the fridge.

Fermentation has been active (and the wine smells amazing), so I’ll be siphoning it into a secondary fermentor (glass jug) today. It’ll ferment in a quiet place for another couple of months and be racked again. While it’s definitely drinkable in several months, it continues to mellow nicely with additional aging, so I’d leave it for at least six months.

 

If you don’t have Massaccesi’s recipe book, it’s very affordably priced on Amazon (I don’t receive any compensation for recommending the book, I just find it a good resource) and worth acquiring. It very well may start you down the road of winemaking obsession!

Jack Keller’s winemaking site also has a wealth of information and recipes. He has orange wine recipes here: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques33.asp.

Did you make orange wine? We’d love to hear how it turned out!

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