Amber Revolution – the first book on orange wine

Simon J Woolf

After 4 years of writing and traveling through 12 countries is Amber Revolution – How the world learned to love orange wine here.

These days, if your name isn’t Youp van ’t Hek or Linda de Mol, you have to take care of this yourself. Wine writer Simon J Woolf did it via Kickstarter. I spoke with him.

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When and where did your fascination for orange wine begin?

In Friuli Carso in 2011. I was tasting a wine made by Sandi Skerk. It just blew my mind. It was so different, profound, exciting and not like anything else I’d ever tasted.

What is it that makes you love it so much?

Partly the immense range of flavours that these wines can have, and their complexity. Their ability to age and pair with almost any food. But also the extraordinary history that lies behind the style and the places where it has traditionally been popular. It’s truly one of the most ancient winemaking techniques we know about.

All orange wines taste the same, some people say. Fermenting on the skins masks the varietal character and expression. Can you comment on that?

Who says that red wines, which are also fermented on their skins, lack varietal character or expression? It’s just a lack of familiarity that makes people say this. People who don’t know wine very well tend to say it all tastes the same – you have to tune your palate to get acquainted with anything new.

Others think orange wine is a fad or hype. Do you think orange wine is here to stay forever?

It’s been here forever, if you look to Georgia or even Slovenia. Yes, it’s hyped at the moment but that hype has been building slowly for the last decade. We’re seeing more and more restaurants, wine bars and shops creating separate sections for these wines, I don’t think it’s going away. No-one says rosé wine is going to die, or sherry or port.

What in Amber Revolution will surprise the reader the most?

I hope the biggest surprise will be that this is a book you can take to bed and read – it’s exciting, a great story with all the components that make it gripping: wartime strife, suffering, overcoming obstacles, overcoming prejudice, succeeding against all odds. More like a novel than a reference book!

What is the most exciting experience during your research in the past 4 years?

Very difficult to choose. Returning to Sandi Skerk’s cellar in 2015 was exhilarating and emotional for me, knowing this is where my orange wine journey began. But being back in Georgia earlier this year was also amazing – the number of traditional winemakers producing orange wines in qvevri has increased from maybe five in 2009 to around 100 now!

Can you tell us something about the kickstarter campaign you are launching?

I’m using Kickstarter to fund the production costs of this book. It’s a great way to get readers involved – you even get your name printed in the book if you pledge at least €25. We’re also able to show off some of the beautiful photos and designs we have in the book, which we’ve made available as limited edition prints. Also worth bearing in mind is that the book is cheaper on Kickstarter than it will be once it’s published – and you get a signed copy!

Amber Revolution – How the world learned to love orange wine is world’s first book to tell the full story of orange wine. The 250 page book profiles 180 top orange wine producers, and is illustrated with more than 100 beautiful shots from photographer Ryan Opaz.

Simon J Woolf is a British freelance wine writer, contributing regularly to Decanter, Palate PressMeininger’s Wine Business International. He is the founder and editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine specialising in natural and artisan wine. He is currently working and living in Amsterdam.