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Two winning bottles of orange wine — one from Oregon, and another from California’s Central Coast — serve as delicious examples of an evolving genre.
Two winning bottles of orange wine — one from Oregon, and another from California’s Central Coast — serve as delicious examples of an evolving genre.Ellen Bhang

This Thanksgiving, I’m flying the flag high for Team Orange. Two winning bottles of orange wine — one from Oregon, and another from California’s Central Coast — serve as delicious examples of an evolving genre.

“Orange wine” refers to more than just a color, and has nothing to do with citrus. The term describes an approach where the skins of crushed white grapes remain with the juice throughout fermentation. It’s the same approach that a winemaker would take when working with red grapes to craft red wine. Guided by regional tradition or creative whim, the maker is the one who decides how long grape skins, which possess pigment and texture, will remain in contact with the juice. Colors of these pours vary across a spectrum, ranging from lightly coppery — an homage to ramato, a skin-contact style of pinot grigio hailing from northeastern Italy — to a robust amber, a hue frequently associated with amphora-aged wines from the country of Georgia.

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Several years back, when retailers began to stock shop shelves with these wines in earnest, texture was a frequently discussed topic. Today, while many orange wines feature prominent tannins (grape skin-residing compounds that produce a drying, astringent feeling on the palate), a growing number of pours showcase sensory components other than texture to generate palate-appeal.

Fifth-generation Oregonian Joseph Swick honed his vision as a natural winemaker by pursuing a steady path. He spent a decade working 15 grape harvests all over the world — including Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, and California — before returning to the Willamette Valley to craft his first vintage in 2013. Soon after, he crafted a skin-macerated pinot gris that he continues to make today. Over the course of a month, the pink-tinged skins of these grapes, sourced from an organic vineyard in the cool, northern reaches of the valley, imbue the juice with a coppery hue. That process is followed by seven months in neutral oak. The wine’s perky acidity makes this unfined, gossamer-weight pour lovely to sip.

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A cheekily named bottle, “Domo Arigato (Mr. Ramato)” is altogether different in style than the Swick pinot gris. No one would blame you for regarding it skeptically, at least at first, given that its name is a not-so-veiled reference to a synth-pop hit from the ‘80s. But stick with me here: Andrew Jones, winemaker and proprietor of the brand Field Recordings, in Paso Robles, Calif., is serious about his craft. To achieve the deliciousness he’s after, he takes select batches of Central Coast-grown pinot gris (he calls it by its Italian name, pinot grigio) and allows juice and skins to mingle for two months, followed by six months in neutral oak. Sensorially silky with an unexpected bit of weight, it’s captivatingly original.

Start with the Swick, then continue with Mr. Ramato once the turkey hits the table. Whatever your game plan, this orange duo will surely liven up the big feast.

Swick Wines Pinot Gris 2020 Coppery pink with a whisper of haze, subtle scents of peach and mineral give way to white floral notes and gentle funk, pointing to a tart, delicate palate of crunchy peach, citrus, and salt. (Like texture? Gently tip the bottle upside down to mix in the fine sediment.) 12.5 percent ABV. Distributed by Olmstead Wine Co. Around $23. At Streetcar Wine & Beer, Jamaica Plain, 617-522-6416; Redstone Liquors, Stoneham, 781-438-9265.

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Field Recordings “Domo Arigato (Mr. Ramato)” Pinot Grigio 2020 Shiny as a polished copper pan, this dry pour offers aromas of stone fruit and a hint of butterscotch, leading to a silky, weighted palate with flavors of apricot kernel and dried peach. 12.1 percent ABV. Distributed by Hangtime Wholesale Wine Co. Around $22. At Boston Wine Exchange, Boston, 617-422-0100; Berman’s Fine Wines & Spirits, Lexington, 781-862-0515.

Ellen Bhang can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com


Ellen Bhang can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com