Wine Advice: Beyond the Grape – Fruit Wine

Wine is made from grapes. Yes, the majority of wine is made from grapes. Wine is also made from a number of other fruits and these “fruit wines” are an option well worth exploring.

Pineapple, coconut, persimmon, lemon, kumquat, apples, pears, strawberries, and plums are just a few of the many fruits suitable for fruit wine production. Some fruit wine is made exclusively from one type of fruit, others are made from a blend of different fruits and some wines include grapes in the blend. Grapes are the most common fruit for wine making because of their natural balance between sugar, acidity and tannin. Other fruits lack such balance, although sugar (which is converted to alcohol during fermentation), acid and tannins can be adjusted during wine-making in order to obtain a balanced wine.

Fruit wines may be produced by a number of different methods and are made in different styles. Wine styles include dry, sweet, still, sparkling, Ice wine, and fortified fruit wine. Most fruit wines, regardless of their style or method of production, are best consumed when young and fresh.

The alcohol level in fruit wine varies and these wines are often sweeter than wine produced from grapes. In Canada, the minimum alcohol requirement for fruit wine is 7.1%, light wines are considered 9% or less, and if the alcohol level exceeds 14.9% the wine must be labeled “dessert” wine or “aperitif ”.

There are more than 160 fruit wineries in Canada and the number of wineries and wines increases annually. Fruit wine is produced in every province although much of the commercially produced fruit wine comes from areas that do not have growing conditions suitable for grape vines.

The quality and consumption of fruit wine is rising annually. Canada has regulations in place governing production. Fruit wine must be made from either the juice of ripe fruit, fruit juice or concentrate, although the majority of wine is made from the juice of ripe fruit. Wine made from fruit other than grapes is labeled “fruit wine”, and the wine label often names the specific fruit used in wine production.

A recent study conducted by E&J Gallo noted that wine consumers between 25-40 years of age are not as “traditional” as others when selecting wine. This group is very supportive of the fruit wine industry, at times using these products as a component in cocktails.

Fruit wines offer extremely good food and wine pairing possibilities. Sweet fruit wines or sparkling fruit wines are wonderful served alongside fruit-based desserts, apple wine is lovely with aged cheddar, cherry wine pairs well with brie cheese, and pear wine compliments both blue and goat cheese.

Manitoba’s commercial fruit winery, Rigby Orchard Estate Winery, is located in Killarney, Manitoba. Red raspberry (dry and dessert), cherry aperitif, and haskap berry wines are some of the products produced by Rigby Orchard Estate. Other locally available fruit wines are saskatoon, black currant, plum and a wild blueberry and lingonberry blend made in Newfoundland.

Kate Wagner Zeke, Sommelier(ISG)
Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Wine Educator(SWE)