Any wine, on a very basic level, is made from fermenting a fruit. While people mostly associate wine with grapes, wine can be made from almost any fruit, as long as there’s enough sugar content in the fruit to convert into alcohol during the fermentation process. Fruits that can be made into wine range from the familiar (blackberries and bluberries) to the exotic (mango and pineapple).
However, one of the most widely produced non-grape fruit wines is apple cider, or “apple wine,” which is made from fermented apples. Apple wines are widely produced throughout England and the rest of the U.K. as well as in Germany, France (Brittany and Normandy), Spain (Asturias, Basque Country, and Galicia), Ireland, Argentina (Patagonia and Mendoza), and Australia (Tasmania). While ciders can be made of any apple variety, they are typically produced from specific varieties that are high in sugar, which as we have seen, helps facilitate the fermentation process. The most popular apple varieties for making cider in the UK are Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black and Chisel Jersey. Next time you’re looking for different kind of wine pairing for a cheese plate, try a cider instead of a traditional grape-based wine. One of the ciders we recommend this month is Sheppy’s. This is a premium cider still made on the Sheppy family farm in Somerset. Available from Southwest Wine in Bristol.
But not only fruits are used to make popular wine. The Japanese have their own unique versions of wine made of rice. Sake is a well known wine with mysterious origins that date back to over 300 years before the current era. Sake in Japan is enjoyed by families and friends in an atmosphere of ritual and custom. There is a running debate over how best to serve sake. Traditionally sake was served warm. This was due to the more rudimentary production processes they had in the past. As production processes have been refined, so too has the quality of sake. So in short, good quality sake should be served slightly chilled, similar to a white wine 10 – 12ºC. If you want a good quality sake, expect to spend upwards of £25 per bottle or more.
Making wines from other fruits and berries is more commonly practiced as a craft by home brewers. Some fruits such as cherries, raspberries, strawberries and pineapples are also very high in acid, which can translate into a very sour tasting wine. In these cases, sugar and/or water can be added to help counter the fruit’s tart acidity.
So if you want to experiment a bit more with wines, why not try a cider or a sake. Or if you are really daring, next time you
go to a farmers market, look for a nice strawberry or cherry wine.