Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’m a food tech student. I’d like to do a project regarding wine. Is it possible to make wine from fruits other than grapes? Is there any wine preparation problem that needs a solution?

—Nithya, India

Dear Nithya,

In most cases the word “wine,” by itself, refers to the beverage made from grapes (though the U.S. government’s Tax and Trade Bureau defines it as made from grapes, other fruit, and even “other suitable agricultural products.”) I’ve heard of other fermented fruit beverages made out there from rhubarb, elderberries, bananas, coconuts and cranberries. Often these wines are made in sweeter styles, and are best consumed young.

Wine grapes are unique in that they can get really ripe, with high sugar levels that make fermentation easier than with other fruits. By contrast, if you imagine the ripest pear you’ve ever had, it’s not nearly as sweet. Moreover, the riper a pear gets, the more susceptible it is to bruising or rotting before you get a chance to make it ferment.

Most fruit wines start by mashing the fruit and adding sugar, and sometimes water. Depending where you go from there, there are all kinds of adjustments to make—mostly to avoid a syrupy mess and balance the acidity level. Grapes also have tartaric acid and tannins that help turn them into wine, so there’s plenty of fiddling to do if you’re trying to get a product that’s as stable, with as much structure and as good a mouthfeel as wine made from grapes.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.