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Discovering Fruit Wine: What Is It and How Is It Different?
McKenzie Hagan |
If Moira Rose from “Schitt’s Creek” has made you wonder what exactly fruit wine is, you’re not alone. “Fruit wine” sounds redundant — isn’t wine already made of fruit? What is Herb Ertlinger slinging, anyway?
Well, while traditional wines are made with nothing but grapes (and a little magic), there are many wines produced from an array of different fruits. These fruit wines are produced all over the world and come in a range of flavors.
In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about fruit wine, including how they are made, what they taste like, how to serve them, and what types of fruit are used to make these intriguing bottles.
Isn’t All Wine Technically Fruit Wine?
All right smarty pants, yes, grapes are fruit, so technically all wine could be seen as fruit wine. However, in the wine world when someone refers to fruit wine, they mean any wine that is not made from grapes.
Even though they are made from fruit, perry and cider are also excluded from the definition of fruit wine. So what is fruit wine, and how do these wines get into this exclusive club?
What Is Fruit Wine?
Generally speaking, fruit wine is made from fermented fruit juice; however, floral wines — such as dandelion wine, elderflower wine, or rose hip wine — are also part of the fruit wine family.
Fruit wine is usually alcoholic, but there are some nonalcoholic versions on the market. Alcohol levels tend to be pretty similar to grape wine, with the majority coming in at 10-15% ABV.
While fruit wine may never be as popular as grape wine, for those who love new experiences these intriguing bottles may be just the ticket. As wine lovers look for new ways to whet their whistles, fruit and floral wines are finding their way to tasting parties.
While there are plenty of professional fruit wine sellers all over the world, fruit wine is synonymous with home winemaking. In fact, in the U.K., fruit wine is also known as country wine due to its reputation for being produced by farmers in the country. There are plenty of recipes and guides for DIY fruit wine. All you need is yeast, fruit, and plenty of patience.
How Is Fruit Wine Made?
To make fruit wine, winemakers must first extract juice from the fruit. This is done by crushing or stewing the fruits. A large quantity of fresh fruit is needed to create a gallon of wine. Many recipes suggest a minimum of 4 pounds of fruit.
Next, the fruit juice is placed in a fermentation bag. Here, the winemakers add a large amount of sugar. While high-quality grape wines rarely have any added sugar (like Usual Wines), fruit wines — especially dandelion or elderflower wines — need plenty of sweetener.
These sugars not only counteract acidity but also give the fruit wine an alcohol content. Along with the sugar, winemakers add yeast nutrient, which ingests the sugar and produces ethanol, aka alcohol.
Getting the alcohol level just right in fruit wine is easier said than done. During wine production, home winemakers must use a device called a hydrometer to measure the “specific gravity” of the wine, which helps them to control the alcohol content.
As well as sugar and yeast, fruit winemakers often add other additives to help balance the wine. These include:
- Tartaric acid
- Citric acid
- Malic acid
- Pectic enzyme
The wine is then left to ferment in a cool, dark place. Once the wine has reached its desired alcohol level, the fruit wine is ready for bottling. Unlike some grape wines, fruit wine does not improve with age. In fact, fruit wine lovers suggest drinking it just one year after bottling.
What Types of Fruit Wine Are There?
There are few rules when it comes to fruit wine. If you can extract its juice, you can make wine out of it. While some varieties are more popular than others — cherry wine, for instance, is a much-loved favorite — there are so many fruit wines to discover.
Blackberry wine is popular in cool climates and makes a rich, slightly sweet wine with plenty of punch. Many people say it tastes remarkably similar to red wine made from grapes.
Plum wine is popular throughout East Asia, including China, Korea, and Taiwan. Plum wine is highly sweet and smooth. It is sometimes mixed into oolong tea for an interesting cocktail.
Pomegranate wine is popular in Israel and is said to have many health benefits, due to the fruit’s powerful antioxidants.
Other fruit wines you’ll find throughout the world’s liquor stores include:
- Blueberry wine
- Nettle wine
- Banana wine
- Pineapple wine
- Apple wine
- Elderberry wine
- Red currant wine
- Lychee wine
- Raspberry wine
- Cranberry wine
- Orange wine (not to be confused with skin-contact wine)
As you can see, if you can dream it, then you can make it! Is your favorite fruit missing from the list? Maybe it’s time to grab your fermentation bag and get making.
What Does Fruit Wine Taste Like?
With so many types of fruit wine, it’s hard to say what all fruit wine tastes like. While some are sweet and fruity like a fruit juice, others are tangy and more nuanced.
Fruit wine flavor all depends on the fruit that is used, the length of the fermentation process, and how the wine is produced. Balancing the sugar levels with the acidity is critical for nice-tasting fruit wine. Too much sugar and the wine can be far too sweet; not enough sugar and the sourness may make it undrinkable.
How To Serve Fruit Wine
Fruit wines are similar to traditional white wines in that they should be served chilled — 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for bringing out the fruity flavors.
Sour fruits, like gooseberry, taste great alongside a spicy Asian dish, such as Singapore noodles. Sweeter fruit wines, like those made with cherry and raspberry, are best suited alongside a fruity dessert, like a mixed berry parfait.
As for glasses, serve your fruit wine in a standard wine glass rather than a tumbler. The long stem of the wine glass will help to keep the wine away from your warm hands, so it stays nice and cool. The bowl of the wine glass will also allow you to enjoy the aromas of the wine before you take your first sip.
While we’re not sure fruit wine will ever take the place reserved in our heart for traditional wine, it’s fun to know what else is out there.
With an array of types to try — from plum to lychee, to blueberry, to banana — there’s bound to be a fruit wine that checks all your boxes. However, if you’re a traditionalist when it comes to wine, check out our shop where we sell a lovely range of red, white, and rosé wines (with no bananas in sight).