6 Myths about Fruit Wines...BUSTED!
We love welcoming people to our winery cellar door and enjoy answering all the great questions people have! What we often find is there are many misconceptions about the products we make and fruit wines in general. So today, we are going to address the 6 biggest myths about fruit wine.
Myth 1 – All fruit wines are sweet
“I don’t like sweet wines” is an answer I often get when asking visitors if they would like to try our wines. My answer is always the same “our wines aren’t that sweet!”. There is a HUGE misconception that because fruits are sweet, fruit wines must be sweet too, but when you think about it, grapes are naturally one of the sweetest fruits grown…and not all grape wine is sweet!
Like in grape wine production, our fruit wines are put through the same fermentation process where yeast consumes the natural fruit sugars and produces alcohol. At the end of the fermentation, there is virtually no residual sugar left – and you’ve got a completely dry fruit wine (just the same as you would have a completely dry grape wine). As the winemaker, it is up to me to determine how sweet the finished wine will be. Some taste better when fermented to complete dryness and some taste better when some natural residual fruit sugar is retained.
Take for example a Moscato wines, which are very popular sweet grape wines, which contain anywhere from 30-110g/L of residual sugar. Our sweetest fruit wine is Pineapple wine, and it only contains 40-50g/L, which is nearly half the amount of residual sugar found in many Moscato wines. Then of course, we have also produced many complex wines from Dragonfruit and Lychee which are completely bone dry, similar to that of a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc!
So the myth - “All fruit wines are sweet” is….BUSTED
Myth 2 - Fruit wine isn’t real wine
Although, we don’t hear this at the cellar door as much as other myths, we have been told that fruit wine “isn’t real wine”. As a winemaker, who has made grape wines as well as fruit wines, this is frustrating to hear as the process is the same. Simplistically, wine is defined as the fermentation of fruit to produce alcohol. So, whether you ferment grape juice or mango juice, the result is still wine. Then I have been told that “you can’t make wine from fruit”…this seems a little silly considering grapes are fruit! Admittedly, grapes are the traditional fruit used in winemaking and they do possesses the chemical properties desired to make a great wine. However, great wines can still be made from other fruits and enjoyed in the same fashion.
So the myth - “Fruit wine isn’t real wine”? is ….BUSTED
Myth 3- Fruit wines are simple and not complex
This one is simply not true. The complexity of any grape wine is based on a range of factors, including fruit quality, fermentation processes, winemaking techniques, usage of oak, ageing processes and many more. The same goes for fruit wine making. The wine style and complexity will depend on the fruit itself, how fermentation is controlled, how long the wine is aged for, plus a range of other various winemaking techniques that I can implement.
For example, our Dragonfruit wine is very complex. Like a red wine, I ferment dragonfruit on its pulp, which in turn allows contact with all the seeds and skins, thus producing a range of complex flavours. It is then given a 12 month ageing period where the wine begins to develop chilli aromas, spicy and herbaceous flavours plus hints of smokiness. As such, it was awarded a Silver medal as judged by traditional grape wine judges. In the USA, there are also many fruit wineries who have won exclusive double gold awards for their fruit wines at internationally renowned wine competitions, thus further proving that with good winemaking skills a complex and high quality fruit wine is very achievable.
So the myth - “Fruit wines are simple and not complex” myth is totally BUSTED.
Myth 4 - Fruit wines are cheap
This is the hardest one for us to compete against. Often fruit wines are perceived as being cheap, due to an array of cheap artificially fruit infused grape wines that are readily available at most bottle shops. However, fruit wines at Ohana winery are produced with the same care, time and cost as any other traditional grape winery. In fact, often the wine production cost is a little higher due to increased labour in processing the fresh fruit to extract juice, the fact that fruits, like Lychees, are often more expensive to buy per kilo than grapes are, and that juice yielded from fruit is only 50-60% as opposed to 75% from grapes. The wines are also put through careful fermentations, ageing and bottling processes like you would find at any high-quality winery. Therefore, fruit wines that are made with quality fresh fruit and careful winemaking practices are not cheap to make. The difference is noticeable in the taste and quality of the wine, when compared to cheaper knock off fruit wine versions.
So the myth - “Fruit wines are cheap”…BUSTED
Myth 5 - Fruit wines are easy to make
This one is easily busted, and any of our friends and family who have helped us make fruit wine, will certainly agree! When making grape wine the processing is fairly straight forward you have crushers and presses designed to extract juice from grapes. Unfortunately, when making commercial fruit wine, there is no magic machine that can peel mangoes, pulp dragonfruit, chop pineapples, crush lychees and press strawberries! This means we have to process a lot of fruit by hand, which is painstakingly slow and difficult at times. However, this is necessary to ensure maximum yields and quality juice is extracted. Then there is the issue of balancing the wines chemically. Grapes are great, as they often contain the perfect amount of sugar, the right pH/acid balance, plus they yield 75%+ in juice. Unfortunately, fruits do not possess these luxuries. Pineapples have a terrible acid/pH balance, strawberries are really low in sugar and mango juice is so thick and intense that yeast don’t like fermenting it! So as a winemaker I spend more than half of my time trying to balance the juice and wines to make the quality products that we proudly sell.
So the myth - “Fruit wine is easy to make” …..mega busted
Myth 6 - Fruit wines can’t be enjoyed like grape table wines
One of the most common questions we get at the winery is “how do you drink fruit wines”. Although it might seem obvious to me, most people think that fruit wines are consumed purely as a dessert wine or for mixing in cocktails. However, as discussed in other myths, fruit wines are not all sweet and in fact can be very complex, making them perfect for matching with food! For example, pineapple wine goes very well with cheese. Lychee wine is a perfect match for a spicy curry. Whilst dragonfruit wine possesses all the characteristics that make it perfect next to a piece of steak. People often forget, that grape wine flavours are described by using other fruits such as lychee, pineapple, strawberry etc. and how those flavours pair well with certain foods. Well the same goes for fruit wines, it’s just the fruit flavours are much more prominent!
So the myth – “Fruit wines can’t be enjoyed like grape table wines”….busted