For all its authentic, artisanal, true-to-the-earth talk, today’s wine industry is high tech, and the science-driven approach to quality in the vineyards and wineries around the world has surely made these the glory days for wine lovers. But let’s not forget that wine is ancient. Numerous archaeological discoveries reveal the highly advanced skills of prehistoric winemakers.
Let’s also not overlook that winemakers past and present continually experiment with their techniques in order to improve the wines made from the grapes grown in their vicinity. A maker of red wine in Burgundy, for example, might need to develop new methods should she be transplanted to the white grape-growing Greek islands. Or not. Out of ignorance, she may just crush those unfamiliar white grapes and leave the juice in contact with the grape skins and pips for weeks or months while the fermentation process takes place, just as she did with red grapes in Burgundy. Surprisingly, all that skin pigment would cause an amber or orange color to the finished wine, distinct aromas, and intense flavor.
In fact, that “make white like red” approach is the world’s oldest wine-making tradition, but it went out of fashion, and was nearly forgotten until its recent resurgence at wineries in the Caucasus and around the Adriatic. In Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine, Simon J. Woolf tells the fascinating tale of this ancient wine, and also profiles nearly two hundred amber-wine producers around the world.
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