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What Are Skin Contact Wines?

Skin Contact Wines


So what does it mean when a winemaker says “skin contact” or “on skins”? What is an orange wine or amber wine? Well we have all these answers and a bit more! 

Skin Contact wines are essentially white wines that are vinified (the process of converting grape juice into wine by fermentation) like red wines. 

Skin Contact vs Orange Wine?

These are interchangeable terms for the same thing, however in Australia we have adopted the term skin contact more readily as there are actually wines being produced in Orange, NSW and that can make things a bit confusing to the average consumer. If you hear someone mention "skin contact", "on skin", "orange" or "amber" wine they are essentially referring to the same thing.

The Process

Making skin contact wines is essentially the process of letting the juice ferment on the skins adds tannin and flavour, and is essential for red wines. Usually, the process for making white wines involves pressing the grapes so that the juice is extracted and then fermented and the skins are discarded. In the case of skin contact wines, sometimes referred to as orange wine or amber wine, the juice is fermented with the skins. This process, referred to as maceration, creates that lovely colour as well as all the unique flavour characteristics in skin contact wines.


This method dates back thousands of years and most experts agree that it originated in the Republic of Georgia, where winemakers would ferment on the skins in clay pots called qvevri. There are winemakers such as La Petit Mort and others who have replicated this ancient winemaking method here in Australia.

So What Does It Taste Like?

I like to say, skin contact wines are white wines for red wine drinkers. This may be an oversimplification of the flavour profile but it is a great way to explain it to a newcomer. Expect the aroma, texture and flavour to be much deeper and complex and of course the texture to be closer to that of a light red than a white wine. Perhaps my favourite part of skin contact wines is the added bonus of the tannins imparted from the skins that give these orange wines their signature texture and and fullness.

Want To Try Some Skin Contact Wines…

There is always a great selection of skin contact wines at Bucket Boys. We like to concentrate on local producers here in Australia who have been making some amazing wines in this category!

Check out what we have in stock here: