Weird Wines with Odd Ingredients

Wine is made from grapes, not chocolate, bacon or space rocks, right? Mostly, but then there are some exceptions…

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:

“Wine is bottled poetry.”

As well as being compared to poetry, wine is often exalted as the drink of the Gods and it is easy to envision women and fauns dancing and stomping around in giant barrels of succulent grapes. Very rarely do we imagine any other fruit or vegetable or… meat. If wine is so amazing, then how could we possibly taint it with anything else? Well, wine envelope pushers came onto the scene and decided to add in different ingredients. Some were inspired by other cocktails and drinks, others included their favorite flavors.

Mr Stevenson would probably have been appalled by the idea, but some of the unique and interesting wines with unusual ingredients out there are actually pretty interesting. Here are a few worth trying for the flavor or just for the novelty.

Birch Sap

The makers of Sav Sparkling Wine added birch sap to their recipe, a syrupy liquid extracted from birch trees. They aren’t alone in this idea, as birch sap is actually very popular throughout Central Europe. The sap is extracted and made into a tonic in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. It must be collected at a certain time of year, between winter and spring when the sap moves more as the buds are developing, which makes it extra special.

Sav Sparkling ferments their wine for two years so that it will develop the “clean fresh scent of citrus, almonds, bread and a pleasing tone of birch sap and pleasant and subtle aroma of apple and grapefruit” and a taste of “citrus, some sour dough bread and nuts. Weak almond scent, and much herbs. Long, slightly nutty balanced aftertaste of forest, fungus, herbs and apples”. The flavors are like a journey through a fairy tale forest.

Meteorite

A deep space wine, Meteorito is the brainchild of Ian Hutcheon, a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wine that embraces the essence of our solar system. For anyone who dreams of getting a golden invitation from the president requesting them to hop on the next rocketship headed towards an Earth-like planet in the next galaxy, this is the wine for you. Put on your astronaut pants because you’re about to get an actual taste of space sans zero gravity.

The 4.5-million-year-old meteorite Hutcheon uses in the fermentation process is believed to have crashed 6,000 years ago in the Atacama Desert. He says it gives the Cabernet Sauvignon a, “livelier taste.” How did he get his hands on this? He’s an astronomer and received the donation from a private collector.

Flower Essence

Flowers and wine pair together in many enthusiasts’ eyes and palates as this practice dates back to the Ancient Romans. The Romans would soak violet petals in white wine to create sweet wine, which they would mix with honey before serving. Others would add lilacs and roses to the floral concoction for a more fragrant taste.

In the U.S., dandelion wine is a very popular choice and a favorite of home wine makers. This could also be attributed to the famous US author, Ray Bradbury, who wrote Dandelion Wine, a deeply personal book which likely evokes memories of summer and childhood to dandelion wine enthusiasts.
Another favorite of home-brewersis cactus flower wine. Cactus flower is symbolic of endurance or love and commonly used for weddings or anniversaries. Since they are cheap and easy plant to maintain, this is a no-brainer for those who like to brew on a whim.

Chocolate

Every woman’s weakness just became even more alluring—chocolate wine. Talk about a glass full of guilty pleasures, what else could a person proclaim besides, “What? I’m getting my antioxidant fix AND my daily fruit and chocolate requirements.” A Washington state winery, Chocolate Shop, specializes in chocolate wine with a base blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc infused with chocolate and aged in oak. This should definitely be on the dessert menu and I wouldn’t mind a brownie à la mode on the side.

Jalapeño

There’s jalapeño ice cream, jalapeño cornbread, jalapeño margaritas, jalapeño jam, and now jalapeño wine. People just can’t get enough of the zesty heat that jalapeños give off. Unlike the other wines mentioned above, jalapeños aren’t used to infuse the wine that Cardinal Hollow Winery makes—their wines are made of 100% jalapeño peppers, no grapes.

Before you start backing off from the idea of tasting it, Cardinal Hollow says, “It won’t burn your eyes or your lips but it is warm. The aroma is just like the pepper and then once you sip it, it fills your mouth with the jalapeño flavor and warmth. As you swallow, you will feel the warmth all the way down.” They also won a silver medal for their jalapeño wine in California.

Bacon

We all knew this was going to happen based on America’s obsession with bacon; even vegetarians will cheat and eat some bacon. With preposterous inventions like bacon condoms, bacon cupcakes, and bacon soda, bacon wine isn’t crazy… I think. It probably does cancel out the health benefits of wine by clogging your arteries instead, but people who love bacon don’t care about that.

Napa Valley Bacon Cabernet Sauvignon is the real deal when it comes to bacon wine as it isn’t bacon-flavored, it’s fermented with bacon. No, it’s not a bunch of strips of bacon that they toss in, it is chunks of raw meat tossed into the batch. Unfortunately, it’s not purely bacon; they also add in raw pork chops for nitrogen. Perhaps they should rename it, “Bacon chop wine.”


New world, old world, and different world wine, many people are definitely getting creative with the craft. Some people may ask, “Why reinvent the wheel?” and to them I say, if we didn’t reinvent the wheel, we’d still be driving around in Flintstone cars.

Bring on the unusual wine ingredients!

One thought on “Weird Wines with Odd Ingredients

  • August 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm
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    “Wine is bottled poetry” – 😀

    Reply

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