Fruit wines are fermented alcoholic beverages made from a variety of base ingredients (other than grapes); they may also have additional flavors taken from fruits, flowers, and herbs. This definition is sometimes broadened to include any fermented alcoholic beverage except beer. For historical reasons, mead, cider, and perry are also excluded from the definition of fruit wine.
Fruit wines have traditionally been popular with home winemakers and in areas with cool climates such as North America and Scandinavia; in Africa, India, and the Philippines, wine is made from bananas.
In the United Kingdom, fruit wine is commonly called country wine; the term should not be conflated with the French term vin de pays, which is grape wine. In British legislation, the term made-wine is used.
Fruit wine can be made from virtually any plant matter that can be fermented. Most fruits and berries have the potential to produce wine. Few foods other than grapes have the balanced quantities of sugar, acid, tannin, nutritive salts for yeast feeding and water to naturally produce a stable, drinkable wine, so most country wines are adjusted in one or more respects at fermentation. However, some of these products do require the addition of sugar or honey to make them palatable and to increase the alcoholic content (sugar is converted to alcohol in the fermentation). Two commonly produced varieties are elderberry wine and dandelion wine. Tainted elderberry wine is the beverage used to commit murders in Joseph Kesselring's play and Frank Capra's film adaptation Arsenic and Old Lace. A wine made from elderberry flowers is called elder blow wine.
The amount of fermentable sugars is often low and needs to be supplemented by a process called chaptalization in order to have sufficient alcohol levels in the finished wine. Sucrose is often added so that there is sufficient sugar to ferment to completion while keeping the level of acidity acceptable. If the specific gravity of the initial solution is too high, indicating an excess of sugar, water or acidulated water may be added to adjust the specific gravity down to the winemaker's target range.
Many kinds of fruit have a natural acid content which would be too high to produce a savory and pleasant fruit wine in undiluted form; this can be particularly true, among others, for strawberries, cherries, pineapples, and raspberries. Therefore, much as to regulate sugar content, the fruit mash is generally topped up with water prior to fermentation to reduce the acidity to pleasant levels. Unfortunately, this also dilutes and reduces overall fruit flavor; on the other hand, a loss of flavor can be compensated by adding sugar again after fermentation which then acts as a flavor enhancer (known as a back-sweetener), while too much acid in the finished wine will always give it undesired harshness and poignancy.
Many fruit wines suffer from a lack of natural yeast nutrients needed to promote or maintain fermentation. Winemakers can counter this with the addition of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available commercially as yeast nutrient. In the opinion of one wine writer fruit wines often do not improve with bottle age and are usually meant to be consumed within a year of bottling.
List of fruits and plants used to make fruit wine
Plum liquor, also known as "plum wine", is popular in both Japan and Korea, and is also produced in China. In China, plum wine is called meijiu (梅酒). Plum wine is normally made with distilled liquor and soaked with plum. The alcohol level is higher than typical fruit wine, which is fermented with just fruits.
Umeshu (梅酒?) is a Japanese alcoholic drink made by steeping green plums in shōchū (燒酎; clear liquor). It is sweet and smooth. A similar liquor in Korea, called maesil ju (매실주), is marketed under various brand names, including Mae Hwa Su, Mae Chui Soon, and Seol Joong Mae. Both the Japanese and Korean varieties of plum liquor are available with whole Prunus mume fruits contained in the bottle.
In Taiwan, a popular post-World War II innovation based on Japanese-style plum liquor is wumeijiu (烏梅酒; smoked plum liquor), which is made by mixing Prunus mume liquor (梅酒 méijǐu), Prunus salicina liquor (李酒 lǐjǐu), and oolong tea liquor.
Another similar drink is plum jerkum, made from fermented plums in a manner similar to the use of apples for cider. It was often associated with the north Cotswolds and was once a product of the town of Worcester.
Pineapple wine is made from the juice of pineapples. Fermentation of the pineapple juice takes place in temperature-controlled vats and is stopped at near-dryness. The result is a soft, dry, fruit wine with a strong pineapple bouquet. Pineapple wine is incredibly popular in Thailand and other SE Asian countries, where it is made using traditional practices and is not available commercially. In Mexico, fermented pineapple beverages are very popular and given the name Tepache.
Commercial examples from around the world include Maui's Winery in Hawaii and Jacobs Wines of Nigeria, the first pineapple winery in Africa. It is also made in Dominican Republic by Vinicola Del Norte, its alcohol content is 10%. Several varieties of pineapple wine are made in Okinawa, Japan, from local produce. Its alcohol content is 11.5% ABV.
Dandelion wine is a fruit wine of moderate alcohol content that is made from dandelion petals and sugar, usually combined with an acid (such as lemon juice) and with wine-making chemicals such as sodium metabisulfite.
While commonly made as a homemade recipe, there are only a handful of wineries that commercially produce Dandelion wine, including Bellview Winery of New Jersey, Breitenbach Winery of Ohio, Hidden Legend Winery of Montana, and Maple River Winery of North Dakota.
Rose hip wine
Rose hip wine is a fruit wine. It can be made from fresh or dried rose hips. To produce this beverage, the rose hips are fermented in syrup with yeast and citric acid, creating an extract. This technique is used with only a few other types of fruit wine, including blackthorn (sloe), hawthorn, and rowan.
The best kind of wine produced from rose hips is strong and sweet, with at least two years of storage.
Redcurrant/Whitecurrant fruit wine is a beverage that is usually produced in northerly cool areas, where it is hard to grow high-quality grapes. It is simple to produce. Its natural chemical balance is such that it can be self-clarified without any additional substances. Redcurrants and whitecurrants contain only a small amount of carbohydrates; this necessitates the addition of sugar or honey.
Cherry fruit wine is produced from cherries, usually tart cherries that provide sufficient acid. Michigan winemakers, located in the leading tart-cherry-producing region of the United States, produce several varieties of cherry wine, including spiced versions and cherry-grape blends.
"Cherry Kijafa" is a fortified fruit wine that is produced in Denmark from cherries with added natural flavors. It usually contains 16% ABV. It is exported to many countries in Europe and North America.
Fruit wine making
Making wine from fruit is similar to making wine from grapes, but there are a few different steps.
First in the wine making process you need to cut up the larger fruits or bust the skins on smaller fruits. You can chop up fruits such as raisins, and bruising any produce like ginger root, etc. Any large pits should be removed. It is also important to understand that you can over-process the produce. Food processors, blenders and such should not be used for this purpose. Doing so will cause too much bitterness from the skin and seeds of the produce to be incorporated into the resulting wine.
The second step is adding sugar to the wine must. For this step you stir together all of the wine making ingredients your specific recipe calls for, except for the wine yeast, into a primary fermenter. Collect any excess pulp in a fermentation bag and submerge the bag into the wine making mixture. Add water to make the batch 5 gallons. In this step you can add some additives such as Campden tablets. They should be crushed up before adding. It is important to not add the wine yeast yet. Adding the wine yeast at the same time you add the Campden tablets will only result in destroying the yeast.
The next step is to cover the fermenter with a thin, clean towel and wait 24 hours. During this waiting period the Campden Tablets are sterilizing the juice with a mild sulfur gas. During the 24 hours the gas leaves the container making it safe to add the wine yeast.
After the 24 hour period, sprinkle the wine yeast over the surface of the juice in the fermenter and then cover with a new thin, clean towel. Allow this mixture or must to ferment for between 5–7 days. You should start to see some foaming activity within 24 hours of adding the wine yeast. Typically, 70% of the fermentation activity will occur during this 5 to 7 day period.
After 5 to 7 days you need to remove the pulp from the fermenter and throw it away. This step, called racking is when you siphon the wine into a carboy in a careful manner, so as to leave the sediment behind. You can easily remove the pulp by lifting out the fermentation bag. Wring out any excess juice from the bag. Siphon the wine off the sediment without stirring it up. Get as much liquid as you can, even if some of the sediments comes with it. If necessary, add water back to 5 gallons.
Attach a wine airlock or fermentation lock and fill it approximately half-way with water. Allow the juice to ferment for an additional 4-6 week period or until it becomes completely clear. You may want to verify with your wine hydrometer that the fermentation has completed before continuing. The wine hydrometer should read between 0.990 and 0.998 on the specific gravity scale. Be sure to give the wine plenty of time to clear up before bottling.
The last step is bottling your wine. Once the wine has cleared completely, siphon it off of the sediment again. Stir in more Campden tablets that have been crushed and then bottle your wine. When siphoning off the sediment, unlike the first time you siphoned the wine, you want to leave all of the sediment behind, even if you lose a little wine.
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