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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can I make watermelon wine?

—Minakshi, India

Dear Minakshi,

You sure can! When a wine is made from something other than grapes, it’s referred to as “fruit wine.” I’ve tried various fruit wines, including strawberry and plum versions, and a reader recently asked about mango and guava versions.

When you make fruit wine, you quickly come to appreciate how much wine grapes are uniquely suited to making wine thanks to their balance of sugar, acidity and tannins. When making wine from other fruits, you typically need to make adjustments by adding sugar or water (or both), in addition to yeast, to help along the fermentation process and achieve an end result that tastes to your liking.

The recipes for watermelon wine that I’ve seen call for the addition of a lot of sugar—as much as 3 pounds of sugar to a 20-pound watermelon. The mashed up watermelon (avoid seedless varieties—the ones with seeds tend to be more flavorful, and the seeds will add some tannins to the mix), sugar and yeast go into a carboy or some other fermentation vessel, and if everything goes to plan, the fermentation will start in about a day, but it can take up to three months, so plan ahead!

—Dr. Vinny

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