Strawberry Wine, Anyone?

Categories: Wine

courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
Sipping in your Chevy by the levee. The heady fragrance of ripe strawberries, your arm around your babe, the song by Deana Carter on the radio drowning out the trance-inducing nighttime crickets under the full moon.

Why not?

We get asked about fruit wines all the time. A common experience at wine festivals is seeing other wineries rolling out cases of this stuff to enthusiastic drinkers. So, why don't we do them?

First, I am happy for people to drink whatever they choose. However, when asked whether we have any sweet wines, my usual not-very-political response is, "We only make quality wines."

See also:
- 5 Rosé Wines Under $20

I do this with a smile. There are some great off-dry and dessert wines, but they are in a class of their own, not your low-priced supermarket wines, which are usually poor quality with a bit of sweetness (and other tricks, like overripe fruit, malolactic fermentation, added oak flavor from bags of oak chips).

You can make fruity wines by fermenting any fruit juice. They are just fruity, that's all. So far as we know, the only fruit that can make wine of the astonishing complexity you get from Vitis Vinifera, the range of European wine grapes, is Vitis Vinifera.

Have a look. Here's a recipe for Strawberry wine from the Internet:
• 7 pounds whole fresh strawberries, (fresh picked, if possible), washed and hulled
• 2 gallons boiling water
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 5 pounds sugar

Five pounds of sugar??? It looks like a Paula Deen recipe. But here's the deal . . . They all need heaps of added sugar.

More from the Net, Wikipedia:

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.
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.

People often ask me what makes a "good" wine and how it differs from lesser wines.
Obviously, it's subjective. I love those wine events where people give the judges at a competition the same wine twice in blind tastings, and their score varies by anything from two to10 points on the same wine.

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