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The truth about orange wine

I must remember not to ask strange open-ended questions. Because someone will go and find out the answer.

I asked whether it was possible to make orange wine. Wine, direct from orange juice:

Our host was, and not this type of orange wine.
He wanted to know whether it was possible to directly ferment orange juice.

Haven’t updated that one, but I did give it a shot, including Trickery.
The answer is No, Nope, Nyet. Not with yeast. And not with Aspergillus ( which would technically make it more of a sake, I guess. )
And yes.. two of the batches have seen the “Drain Cleaner” ( lab grade sodium hydroxide, but still…) treatment to get a citrate buffer at higher pH. Nope…
Other batches have seen more ….uncivilised… treatment, including two precipitation steps using Strontium salts.
( yes.. there’s an abundant natural stable non-radioactive element. Yes, they make pretty rocks. Yes, I have a couple of kilos of those. Pretty Rocks, d’uh.
It works *exactly* as a much heavier substitute for Calcium, which makes centrifuging precipitate a hella lot easier on home-brew equipment.)

You can get the yeast to grow ( -ish), and even ferment, BUT there simply isn’t enough glucose in the juice to get any appreciable amount of ethanol ( but plenty of other Nasties…).
Hitting raw juice with pectase gives a similar result: wrong kind of sugar for ethanol. ( plenty of acetone though..).

Which is basically as expected… If our medieval/renaissance forefathers couldn’t make alcohol out of the stuff, there’s little chance we can.
Even though we understand the underlying principles far better, and can point out the Why of it.

Thus Science has been Served in proving it still cannot be done, even with more advanced knowledge and understanding of the process.


So, you can make a (grape) brandy and stick some orangey bits in it (Cointreau, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier) but not an orange wine.

10 thoughts on “The truth about orange wine”

  1. Congrats to Grikath for going above and beyond the call of duty in investigating this important question (to us at least). The mark of a true scientist. We are not worthy (bows down).

  2. Impressive work in the name of pure science but of limited practical value to anyone who is content with traditional Tropicana and eschews even modest deviations to the “smooth” or “with extra juicy bits” varieties.

    Perhaps the technology applied at the Wedding Feast at Cana could provide a more fruitful -or should that be fruitless – line of research for your next project, Grikath?

  3. We got the grapefruits of his labor.

    Seriously and anecdotally, I lived in a house that was built in a former orange grove. They left a few trees which would bear prolifically and all at once. So, we made orange juice. If we didn’t drink it fast enough, it would start to ferment. It would get bubbly and start to get an alcohol taste to it. We never let the process proceed to see how far it would go.

  4. The Blessed G misses the green route to Orange Wine.

    First process the OJ to release hydrogen, carbon, water, and orange flavourings. Then synthesise ethene from the C and H, then pass the ethene and steam through a catalytic bed and – bingo! – ethanol. Dilute it with more water, add a little of the orange flavour and, ta-da, orange wine! A suitable green calculation will reveal this route to be Net Carbon Zero.

  5. @MG Yup, the juice does start to ferment naturally, eventually. By a mold, not yeast.

    And that alcoholly tang.. That’s methanol and heavier alcohols. Which is why you don’t drink orange juice when it goes bubbly…

  6. Michael van der Riet

    Add a couple of kilos of sugar. Forbidden you say. Why then is it forbidden to add oak chips etc to the fermenting vessel for grape wine? I make orange wine mainly because oranges come onto the market at the end of winter and great wine makers like peaches and plums only arrive five or six months later.

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