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.