Orange Duck, Orange Wine #ItalianFWT

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group Goes Orange
Having finished our region-by-region tour, our #ItalianFWT group is working on new, different ways to explore Italy.  Join us this month as we experiment with skin-fermented white wines from all over Italy! Further down in the post you can see what all my Italophile buddies have dreamed up.

Radikon Oslavje

Skin-fermented white wines show aromas, flavors and textures all their own

Skin-Fermented White Wines = “Orange”
What is an orange wine? It helps to start with a brief discussion of how typical wines are fermented:

  • Red wine – Red grapes are harvested, placed into an open top tank, crushed and allowed to ferment.  The alcoholic fermentation (typically anywhere from 5 days up to 6 weeks) is completed in the presence of the grape pulp, skins and seeds. The new wine is pressed off the grape must.
  • Rosé wine – Starts out like a red wine. Grapes are harvested, placed in an open tank, crushed and fermentation begins. Somewhere between a few hours and a few days, the lightly colored fermenting liquid is pressed off.  Fermentation finishes without the presence of the grape pulp, skins and seeds.
  • White wine – White grapes are harvested and immediately pressed, separating the juice from the grape pulp, skins and stems. The clear grape juice is placed in a tank for fermentation. No color or any flavor compounds are derived from the pulp, skins or stems because they were separated so soon.
  • Orange wine – White grapes processed in the fashion of red wines above. The white grapes are harvested, placed into an open top tank, crushed and allowed to ferment.  The alcoholic fermentation is completed in the presence of the grape pulp, skins and seeds (a few days up to 9 months!). The new wine is pressed off the grape must.

In an orange wine, the aromas, flavors and textures from the white grape components are extracted as part of the fermentation. The resulting wine is similar in texture to a red wine, but the aromas and flavors are very different from any of the above. In addition, many makers of orange wines also allow the in-process wines to be exposed to the air and develop oxidative aromas. They may also adhere to low or no-sulfur regimens.  These additional elements are not required and are not used by all.

summertime treats

summertime treats

Hipster Fad or Traditional Gem?
Orange wines are nothing if not controversial! Several years ago they were discovered by sommeliers, critics, wine enthusiasts and winemakers around the world and a phenomenon was born.  All of a sudden, orange wines were springing up everywhere. Some good, some not so good.

They are a mixed bag at our house.  They did take some getting used to, but I find I enjoy them very much. Julie, on the other hand, won’t touch them. Should you try them?  If you’re a bit adventurous, I would say yes, definitely! Keep an open mind, don’t serve them too cold (more like a red than a white). If you don’t like the wine on day one, set it on the counter and come back on day two, three.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Radikon Oslavje orange wine

Stanko Radikon is one of the leading producers of orange wines. Many of his bottlings are 500ml, perfect for two people at dinner.

Stanislao Radikon ‘Oslavje’ Venezia Giulia IGT 2006 ($39 at Henry and Son)
From the winery:

  • 40% Chardonnay 30% Sauvignon 30% Pinot Grigio
  • Natural fermentation
  • Maceration in oak vats for 2/4 months (note: this is the time on the skins)
  • Maturation in 25/35 hl casks for 4 years.
  • Bottle ageing for 2 years.
  • No added sulphur.

Eye: Cloudy, deep deep orange. Unfiltered
Nose: Clean, medium intensity, ripe tangerine peel, pine needles, a bit oxidized.
Mouth: Rich mouthfeel, high acidity, medium tannins. Easy to think of the richness of a red wine mouthfeel with a very different flavor profile. Curry, tangerines, mushrooms, forest aroma, wet leaves, very complex. Medium+ finish, lingering citrus, curry, forest.

I love this wine and would happily pair it with any number of traditional red wine pairings: lamb, steak.  It also pairs nicely with chicken & pork. Very versatile once you get the hang of the flavor profile.

think of the grill as an old fashioned fireplace

think of the grill as an old fashioned fireplace

Radikon Oslavje with Duck on the Grill
I think of duck more like a red meat than fowl and usually pull out a red wine. The Radikon Oslavje was very enjoyable with every element of the food on the plate. It had a rich texture, ample acids and tannins for the luscious duck breast. I had finished the potatoes in the leftover duck fat, so they held some of the same richness.

Dinner's ready. 100% from the grill.

Dinner’s ready. 100% from the grill.

Italian Food Wine & Travel Posts and Chat
Join us this Saturday, July 2 at 10am CDT on Twitter at #ItalianFWT to chat about skin-fermented white wines from Italy. Here is a preview of what’s to come from our Italian blogging group:

Don’t forget to join us next month.  We’ll be drinking Italian Rosato (the Italian version of rosé).

Reverse Seared Orange Duck

Note this recipe comes from the book “Hot Coals” by Jeroen Hazebroek and Leonard Elenbaas. The American lexicon of ceramic grill recipes seems locked into the spicy Southern or Texas genres. This book takes a traditional European approach where you might think about your grill as a wood burning fireplace and go from there. While the cover is a bit goofy, the recipes are solid and the photos inside are beautifully done. They go into some depth on the ceramic grill techniques, which is very helpful for a beginner!


  • 2 – 10 oz. duck breasts (magret de canard)
  • 2 oranges, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 2 oranges peeled and cut into sections with pith removed.
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Mild smoking wood chips (I used cherry) for flavor via the grill

Side Dish Ingredients

  • 1 lb. new potatoes, halved
  • 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to coat the potatoes and veggies lightly


  • Score the fat side of the duck breasts in a cross-hatched pattern
  • Layer slices of orange, then thyme then duck breast, thyme and orange. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  • Set up your ceramic grill for indirect heat and bring to a temperature of around 275° F.
  • Place smoke chips in the coals and allow to stabilize to a steady low smoke.
  • Place a drip pan with a bit of water under the grill grid.
  • Smoke the duck breasts, skin side up for approximately 20 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 120°F is reached.
  • The potatoes can be started on the grill alongside the duck.
  • Remove the duck breasts from the grill, wrap in foil and set aside.
  • Remove the heat deflectors and bring the grill temperature up to 375-400°F.
  • Pre-heat a cast iron skillet on the grill to finish the duck breasts
  • Return the duck breasts to the grill, meat side down, for 3 minutes.
  • Continue to turn the potatoes and add the zucchini to the grill
  • Flip the duck breasts into the cast iron skillet, skin (fat) side down, to finish, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove the duck breasts and cover with foil.
  • Finish the potatoes by briefly introducing them to the skillet to finish crisping in the remaining duck fat.
  • Slice the duck breasts, serve garnished with reserved orange slices and additional thyme. Potatoes and zucchini on the side.


Reverse seared grilled orange duck

14 Responses to “Orange Duck, Orange Wine #ItalianFWT”
  1. TheWiningHour says:

    Looks delicious Jeff. Love your title! I enjoy duck, but it’s something I never ever make. #Incentive!

    • I had never made it before, but recently found some individually packaged breasts. Julie doesn’t care for duck (or Orange wines for that matter), so it’s one of those “just me” nights.

  2. Cooking Chat says:

    good break down of how orange wine making technique compares to other types. Sounds like a delicious wine and pairing!

  3. Vino Travels says:

    Duck sounds like it would make a lovely accompaniment to orange wines. although I’ve never made duck myself. I also see pork being another classic selection as you mentioned.

  4. Looks like you had two winners Jeff! i love how you described the differences in fermentation between, red, white, pink and orange wines!

  5. Great description of the Orange wines. I love them and wish we could find more locally. The unusual complex flavors hit all my buttons. The downside of living in a small resort community that has scorching hot summers is limited availability to unique items – can’t wait to buy and explore more my next LA trip.

    Super impressed with the duck breasts on the grill – Terry has not tried them on the egg yet, seems like I need to try this out!

  6. culinarycam says:

    I love this post. Jeff. Thanks for hosting the #ItalianFWT event this month!

  7. Love duck! Next time we have duck breasts, we will try this! I sent the recipe to Que Syrah Sue and my husband too!

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