Fruit wines are growing in popularity here in the UK, thanks to discerning drinkers on the look out for something new to try, plus our climate and landscape that creates the optimum conditions for growing a huge variety of fruits.
Popular Fruits for Fruit Wines
Expertly crafted from the bounty of Britain’s orchards, hedgerows and woodlands, there’s much more to fruit wines than you might expect.
Think of a fruit and there will almost certainly be a fruit wine made from it: apricot, birch, black beer and raisin, blackberry, blackcurrant, cherry, cranberry, cowslip, damson, elderberry, elderflower, ginger, gooseberry, mulled wine, nettle, peach, plum, quince, raspberry, rosehip, sloe and strawberry are all popular choices guaranteed to perk up jaded palates.
If that list is a little overwhelming for first time fruit wine samplers, start off with those that are similar to the grape-based wines that you like. Rhubarb wine is dry and light with similar characteristics to a Sauvignon Blanc, for example, and red wine aficionados could choose blackcurrant wine for a similar full-bodied, spicy finish.
Because of the seasonal nature of the various fruits, different fruit wines also match well with different times of the year. Summer fruits such as strawberry and raspberry make a refreshing fruit wine choice in the warmer months, moving on to damson and sloe wine in autumn, and why not try some festive cranberry wine at Christmas?
How Are Fruit Wines Made?
Often viewed as a less complex drink, the process of making fruit wines is almost identical to that of grape wines, resulting in a range of varieties from sweet to dry.
Flavour and juice are extracted by pressing, stewing and fermenting the pulp of the fruits, with the addition of sugar or honey in some cases to make the finished drink palatable and to increase the alcoholic content (sugar is converted to alcohol in the fermentation).
And as almost any fruit can be made into fruit wine, it means there’s bound to be at least one out there that will tantalise your tastebuds.
What Makes the UK so Good at Making Fruit Wines?
Fruit wines have traditionally been made in areas such as North America and Northern Europe, because their cooler climates used to make them less successful at growing grapes.
However, in recent years this has changed, and winemakers in the UK and beyond have been taking the world of wine by storm, winning awards around the world for their grape wines. Indeed, British winemakers are earning a particularly good reputation for sparkling wines, because our climate gives grapes with good levels of acidity and helps us create fresh and light wines with a distinct fruit character.
Similarly, British fruit wines are scooping plenty of awards these days thanks to their versatile flavours to tempt all palates, from lighter, drier wines to more intense, old-fashioned berry-rich varieties. Many of them also make delicious spritzers, mixed 50/50 with soda water.
And in keeping with today’s more mindful attitudes towards healthy and sustainable products, many fruit wines now use only natural ingredients specially selected to ensure that they are suitable for vegetarians and coeliacs, and are free from GMOs.
If you’re looking for something new to drink as autumn approaches, keep an open mind and give fruit wines a try. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.