A friend of mine likes to keep his winery staff on their toes during harvest and so he plans little oddball side projects in addition to the main winemaking. One year, they made some ancestral (pét-nat) wines. Another year was a blanc de noir out of red Grenache. And then there was one other year where they made a fruit “wine”.
I have to say that after trying it, I wasn’t a terribly huge fan as it seemed they used the innate fruit sugars to make the “wine” and the result was a wee bit flabby when compared to regular wine. Why am I saying “wine” and wine? Because the pure definition of wine is that it needs to be made from grapes, otherwise it’s just a fermented fruit drink, much like how tea needs to be made from camellia sinensis, otherwise it’s an infusion, but I digress.
I hadn’t really thought much more of this approach to making alcohol until I was sent a new copy of this book by Yacov Morad called, “Beyond Grapes“. As you may infer from the title, this is a book all about making wine, from anything other than grapes.
He does a fine job of covering the basics at the beginning in terms of what you need to carry out alcoholic fermentation at home. His approach is a bit prescriptive in terms of additives and such but I suppose it’s all in the interest of having people get something they can drink in the end, instead of toss down the drain, as it’s very easy to have things go very wrong during the fermentation process.
From this how-to beginning, it dives right in to making wines from various ingredients which he breaks down by the groups of: Fruit Wines, Vegetable Wines, and then Medicinal Herb Wines. These are followed up by a liqueurs section which is admittedly a very different beast than fermenting wines given that it’s more to do with infusion of the base ingredient. This is something of an oddball to see in the book, but I suppose there’s some relation to the main topic and if people want to make a wine from açai, then they very well might want to make a liqueur as well.
In terms of the recipes, there’s definitely repetition to them but they have slight variances and it’s clear to see why those fruit wines at my friend’s cellar were so off as you really need to bump up the fruits with various other components. Had this book been around when they were doing those trials, maybe the results would have been a lot more appealing.
But overall, it’s a worthwhile 123 page reference book. While the written text isn’t in abundance, Yavoc writes with an energetic tone that shows a great deal of passion for this style of making alcohol. Additionally, the layout is quite catchy and visually appealing.
If you want to make a “wine” out of coconuts, potatoes, or yes, even dill, then this is the book for you.
Review copy provided by the publisher
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Commendable that you are open minded enough to show that there are alternatives to grapes when making “wine”. I would certainly say that I am in the “rut” wanting wine to be made from grapes. On a full disclosure basis I have to say that in my very young years my father made “wine” from everything from red beets to every type of fruit and even from rose hips! How about rhubarb wine??? Unfortunately as a home made concoction it was hard to choke down! The one thing it did for me was to assist in my 1st entrepreneurial experience – selling bottles of “wine” out of my locker in high school!! In the process I also discovered how difficult it was to get repeat customers! I have no doubt that it can be done very well, however, I am sticking to grape wine!!
Yeah, I have to admit I’m not too adventurous on this front. Was offered pomegranate wine on many occasions in Armenia and it was almost always the same: not my thing.