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May 6, 2010 10:33 AM

If a "wine" is made from fruit other than grapes, is it really "wine"?

I saw this link on another board:

I'm SO unknowledgeable about wine,though I drink it every day, but the thought of it being made from raspberries, currants, etc. just triggered an "oh,no, this doesn't sound right at all" in me. But maybe I just lead a sheltered life :) It kinda reminds me of those Boones Farm things from decades and decades ago. But, really, is there any reason that wine shouldn't be made from fruit other than grapes? And if they are, are they considered...well, you know, er, swill? I think I'm being very brave being the OP on the wine board so be gentle with me? Maybe I've been missing out on something? BTW, I don't like many sweet things at all.

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  1. Wine can only be made from grapes. If made from other fruit it can only be called fruit-wine.


    "The farm’s vineyard and famous berry harvests allow the winery to create a wonderful selection f traditional grape wines and specialty fruit wines."

    1. To perhaps clarify a bit. A check of the Jones Family Farms Winery website shows that most of what they make are true varietal wines and they also make 'fruit wines', which are technically 'fermented alcoholic beverages' made from fruit. In the EU it can't be called wine if it's not made from grapes. In the US it doesn't seem to be that specific, although making wine from fruit usually requires the addition of sugar (to get higher alcohol content) and that's not legal in California (not sure about other states).

      Back to of their fruit wines' is Chenin Blanc BLENDED with fruit, while the others are all fruit.

      Bottom line answer: It depends on where you ask.............. and whom.

      1. This is a lovely ambiguous issue.
        In my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary ( self-subtitled "The definitive record of the English language" ) this is what I read under "Wine":

        1. The fermented juice of the grape used as a beverage.
        2. In wider use, usually with qualifying word: A fermented liquor made from the juice of other fruits, or from grain, flowers, the sap of various trees ( e.g. birch and palm ), etc. : sometimes called "made wine"

        1. Simply put, wine is the fermentation of the juice of fruit. Grapes are, by far, the most common, and the word "wine" by itself is synonymous with "grape wine." Wine produced from other fruits will carry that fruit's name as a modifier (e.g.: cherry wine, blackberry wine, etc.). So, there is "wine" and "fruit wine," but then grapes are a fruit, right? So . . .

          The key is that grapes are one of the very fruit fruits to contain enough natural sugar to ferment to stability with no added sugar.

          There are some truly phenomenal fruit wines, though, and they should not be overlooked. One of the best I know is the Raspberry wine made by Oak Knoll in Oregon. Indeed, one of the most famous and well-respected Napa Valley winemakers once described this to me as "the Château Lafite of fruit wine." See


          3 Replies
          1. re: zin1953

            Thank you, Jason, for helping lend some respect to fruit wines...indeed, some are really nice. In particular, I recall an elderberry wine that had a lot of depth. Thanks for the Oak Knoll link; I'd like to check it out.

            (Twenty years ago, I made my own from hand-picked blueberries, Turned out rather elegant and slightly petillant!)

            1. re: zin1953

              I'm glad I asked this question and I appreciate the replies. A followup question: are these wines that one would drink with food? Oh, and are they served chilled? And since sugar is added, does that make them generally sweeter or less sweet than grape wines? (I know that's more than one question.) Thanks.

              1. re: c oliver

                The addition of sugar BEFORE fermentation bears no direct result on whether or not the resulting wine is sweet or dry. ANY wine can be sweet or dry, it depends upon the winemaker . . . .

                Yeast consumes sugar and converts it to alcohol. If the winemaker stops ("arrests") the fermentation prior to all the sugar being consumed, the wine will contain some residual sugar and thus, some sweetness; if, OTOH, the yeast is permitted to keep going, they won't stop until (virtually) all of the sugar will be consumed.

                TO GENERALIZE: fruit wines can either be "syrupy sweet" (think something like Mogen David or Manischewitz Blackberry or Elderberry wine), or not. But virtually every fruit wine has *some* sweetness to it because the wine's acidity is so much higher than it is in (grape) wine. Some fruit wines can be excellent with food -- either as an aperitif or with an entrée -- while others are best with dessert. And some are best left alone . . . .

                Besides Oak Knoll, you may want to check out Bargetto's offerings. The winery started in 1933, and they've been making fruit wines since 1964. Indeed, their "Chaucer's Mead" is so popular that a few years ago they decided to "re-brand" ALL their fruit wines under the Chaucer's brand name. Check out Their Ollalieberry wine is outstanding, and their Raspberry is second only to Oak Knoll (in my experience).