All About Orange Wine – Part 1

The following two entries will talk about orange wines. It’s not a wine that is very widely made anymore but I must say that it is a shame as it can make an excellent product. Oranges are easy to find and often do not cost that much depending on where you live.

I think what follows will give you a good amount of information I got from experience which will put you well on the way to get some orange wine started. I have pointed out some important things to look out for to make sure you can make the best wine possible.

Orange juice can be converted into various kinds of wine styles.

Orange Varieties

Usually, two varieties of oranges in wine making are used, namely the Valencia and the Navel. Navel orange juice, except from fruit harvested very late in the season, becomes bitter on standing a few hours; hence the wine is inclined to be slightly to moderately bitter. However, the bitterness is not very objectionable. The Valencia gives juice free of bitterness and Valencia orange wine is no more bitter than grape wine can be.


The oranges should be thoroughly ripe; but should not have attained over-ripeness, since when over-ripe, the juice and wine can potentially acquire a stale flavor.

Extracting the Juice

The fruit should be sound and carefully sorted to remove all moldy oranges. The oranges should be very thoroughly washed.

The juice can be easily extracted manually for home winemaking by standard home pressing equipment.

On a commercial scale, they can be coarsely crushed and pressed in apple juice equip¬ment but care must be taken to not do a high pressure press as the juice may be apt to ferment poorly because of the an¬tiseptic effect of the essential oil of the rind which could be squeezed out in the pressing The juice so prepared may also contain an excess of gums and pectin from the peel and be of poorer flavor than that obtained by reaming. Ideally, using a centrifuge to remove any essential oils is ideal. The outer yellow rind can be grated from the fruit by special machine or by hand in small quantities and the essential oil recovered from the gratings.

The fruit may then be extracted by a revolving drum extractor, or by means of a continuous screw press in commercial wineries.

Fermenting of Orange Juice

Orange juice is an excellent medium for growth of yeast and for fermentation. It ferments very rapidly and, if the sugar content is sufficient, develops high alcohol content.


If the juice is more sour than desired, some of the acidity can be neutralized in the cold by adding a calculated amount of pure potassium carbonate, or by heating to 150° to 160° F. with a calculated amount of calcium carbonate or milk of lime, stirring and filtering hot. Calcium citrate is insoluble in the hot juice.

“Riesling” Type Orange Wine

For making a dry table wine, the oranges should be thoroughly ripe and of not too high acid content. Dextrose sugar or cane sugar is added to the juice to bring it to 21° to 22° Brix.

To the screened sweetened juice, freed of coarse pulp, should be added 100 to 125 p.p.m. of S02.

A starter of pure wine yeast of desirable strain, growing in orange juice should be added at a rate of about 20g per 100L of juice. When this juice is actively fermenting, it may be used to inoculate other juice and thus used in place of a starter grown in sterile juice.

Fermentation may be conducted in open vats or in covered tanks. Since fermentation of orange juice is very rapid, much heat will be evolved and it may be necessary to cool the fermenting juice as described for grape wine fermentation, in order that the temperature does not rise to the sticking point, 95° to 105° F.

When fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to completely filled tanks or casks and bunged loosely, to prevent acetic bacterial and growth of film yeasts. Film yeasts (mycoderma) can grow profusely on orange wine exposed to the air, if the alcohol does not exceed 15 to 16 per cent.

When the wine has settled several weeks, it is racked and should be given a dose of 150 to 200 p.p.m. of S02, to prevent oxidation and other potential problems.

It should then be clarified with Bentonite, at a rate of at least 100g/100L but determined accurately with Bentonite test trials. A very heavy dose of Bentonite is usually needed 2, 3 times that used for grape wines. Heating the wine to 120’ F to 140° F. improves clarification. Post fermentation peptic enzyme is also useful in clearing the wine, 2 to 4 weeks being needed.

The clear wine should then be aged in completely filled oak casks for several months, adding S02 occasionally, if necessary, to main¬tain a Free S02 content of about 50 p.p.m.

During aging, adding a small amount of the dehydrated outer rind of orange peel may flavor it; that is, the outer yellow layer is peeled from some of the fruit and sun dried or dehydrated bone dry. About 2 to 3 grams of this peel is added per liter of wine, or about 2 to 3 lb. per 100 gal. On standing in the wine for several weeks, it imparts a pleasing orange flavor. If desired, however, it may be omitted.

When the wine is considered sufficiently aged, it is filtered brilliantly clear in a polishing filter; SO2 content is increased to about 50-60 p.p.m. with total to 250 p.p.m and the wine bottled.

It is rather tart in taste. Sweetening to about 4g/L with sugar may be useful.

This is the end of “Part 1” on Orange Wines, check back very soon for the second part which goes in more detail on making the sweeter styles of orange wine.

Happy Fruit Winemaking!

5 thoughts to “All About Orange Wine – Part 1”

  1. >should be given a dose of 150 to 200 p.p.m. of S02, to prevent oxidation and other potential problems
    How it is maked ?

        1. You need to physically add so2 to the wine. Usually in the form of potassium metabisulphite or “KMS”. Me measure so2 addition, you multiply 0.19ml/L of a 10% solution to add 10ppm. So a 150ppm addition would be 2.85ml of a 10% KMS solution per L of wine. Hope this helps.

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