Over the past couple of weeks, I introduced you to the wonderful world of non-grape fruit wines crafted from fruits and berries grown in Maine’s coastal region and in other parts of the Eastern United States. These non-grape wines are made from pear, apple, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and many others. Sometimes these wines are combined with certain local grapes, or flavors like chocolate, for interesting blends. Some “regular” wine grapes — and many grapes grown only in America’s north and east — are staples in east coast wines.
If you’re a grape-wine aficionado, what would you want to know in order to try, or even switch to fruit wines? Would you believe that a blueberry wine pairs with roasts, steaks and hearty vegetables? Or, that a dry blueberry wine is a lovely accompaniment to chicken, ham or a cheese tray? Do you like spicy food? A pear wine is said to combine very nicely with anything from spicy dishes to a grape and cheese dessert plate. And don’t expect a syrupy plum wine substitute. These fruit wines are full-bodied, dry or sweet, with clarity and consistency of wine-grape wines.
Michael Anderson, owner of Winterport Winery near Bangor, Maine runs Pairings, a restaurant and event center on his winery just off of Maine’s coast. There, they offer classes and various food and pairing events to highlight the wonders of food combined with their estate-crafted fruit and grape wines, and beers.
But what I find especially fun are the food pairings suggestions listed on Winterport’s website. For example, their Sparkling Pear Wine, as you might expect, goes great with light desserts like almond tart. And their 2008 Silver Award winner Berry Chocolate is a raspberry-blueberry blend with chocolate that can serve as a dessert in itself.
With so many fruits and flavors to explore beyond grapes, it is no wonder that there is always some new wine to make, or pairing to try. Says Michael Anderson of Winterport Winery about his wine-making enterprise, “I haven’t worked a day yet. It is like doing my hobby all the time.”
Through my series on non-grape fruit wines, I hope I’ve inspired you to try some. When you try them, I encourage you to have a Zen-like attitude. If you are thinking about grape wines when you try them, you will be disappointed. If you have no expectations, you are likely to have a really fun experience.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home
Great article on broadening our wine horizons. Tropical fruits make wonderful wines as well. We’re home winemakers in Florida where fruits like mangoes and bananas are plentiful, and make absolutely wonderful wines (both sweet and dry). Even vegetables can make great wines, although it’s difficult for people to get past their preconceptions; my wife made a sweet potato wine that is dry, complex, and just as sophisticated in flavor as any grape wine.
Your wines sound wonderful!
All of us at Hermit Woods Winery appreciate a great California or French wine as much as anyone. The bar has been set for what a great wine is for hundreds of years and it is our challenge to continue in that tradition using non-traditional fruit. As anyone who loves wine knows, flavor is only one of many characteristics that make a great wine; also important are aroma, color, body, mouth feel, complexity, length, finish, etc. This is what we try to embody in every wine we make. Our wines may not be made of grapes, but certainly embody many of the characteristics of our favorite grape wines. When was the last time you watched someone take a sip of a red wine and say “hmmm, did you get the grape in that”?
Bob, than you so much for your comments. Your website, http://hermitwoods.com/, is so inviting! I especially love this line: “We make a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional wines that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.” I hope I have the opportunity to visit NH and the not too distant future. When I do, I will visit you.
Thank you Betty, I will look forward to some day seeing you in our winery.