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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Can any type of fruit be used for wine production?
—Egbe A., Cameroon
Fruit wines are made from everything from pineapples to blueberries to cherries. You can find a lot of recipes for homemade fruit wines if you do a search online.
Wine grapes (and not table grapes) are particularly suited to winemaking because they have enough sugar to convert to alcohol, sufficient acidity to balance the sweetness, and tannins in the skins and seeds to give the wine structure. In contrast, even ripe plums and apricots will never get as sweet as a ripe wine grape. That means to make fruit wine you’ll need to add a large amount of sugar before you can start fermentation. Grapes are also less susceptible to bruising or rotting, which is important because no matter what kind of wine you’re making, you’ll want to start with the best quality fruit, though some recipes suggest frozen fruit will work.
To make fruit wine, you’ll start by mashing the fruit and adding sugar and water—some recipes recommend heating the mixture to extract fruit flavors. You’ll need to add particular types of yeast, and keep an eye on your fruit wine to make sure it’s stable through fermentation and free of bugs. And you’ll probably want to filter out the fruit solids before drinking it.
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