Can we really make wine from other berries? Or are wine grapes the only fruit that has been bestowed with the ability to turn into delicious wine?
The simple answer to this question is yes, other fruit can be used to make wine. However, technically speaking, wine is usually defined as the fermented juice of grapes, and in the European Union, this is actually the legal definition. Therefore, it’s not as common to see wine made from strawberries or cherries.
That said, wine can and is made from many other types of fruit. The key factor in determining which fruits will ferment the best is ensuring that the winemaking components — sugar, acid, tannin, yeast and water — are in balance within the fruit being fermented. In many cases, additional flowers, herbs and spices could also be added, along with addition of honey or sugar to chaptalize the wine (the process of raising the sugar content to produce a higher alcohol level in the wine. If you don’t have high sugar, you don’t have much alcohol). Finally, water may also be added to balance the naturally higher acidity in the fruit, particularly in strawberries and cherries.
Pineapple wine, dandelion wine and cherry wine are three of the most common fruit wines produced globally. Pineapple wine is produced in temperature-controlled vats until almost dry, and it’s very popular in Thailand, Southeast Asia and the Dominican Republic. Cherry wine is made from tart cherries because they have enough acidity to create a backbone for the wine, with Michigan leading the United States in cherry wine production. And finally, dandelion wine is mostly made by home winemakers. Here’s a recipe if you want to try and make it.
But one fruit wine that isn’t actually wine at all is plum wine, the concoction you might find at your local Chinese restaurant. It’s actually distilled liquor soaked in plum.
Fruit wines are generally made to be consumed young and are often made by home winemakers who live in cooler-climate areas. So the next time you find yourself in the produce aisle of your local store, grab some fruit and get to work!