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Tips from Andre: Fruit Wines and Fruit Winemaking ?Part 1 of 2

Once again we have advent of the summer season in Western New York and Ontario and while some home winemakers limit their endeavors to the grape, others, including myself, anxiously await the arrival of the fresh fruit. Once dismissed out of hand by some as inferior and often quaintly referred to as ?country? wines, fruit wines are enjoying a surge in popularity never seen before, embraced by amateur and professional vintners alike.

And why shouldn?t they? Our region has the good fortune to possess a burgeoning agribusiness in fruit other than grapes and, as many fruit farmers have discovered (as indicated by the surge in farm winery licenses), wine returns a much more appealing margin than fruit alone. For those who are still on the fence about the virtues of fruit wine, may I suggest that you take a day to tour some of the local wine trails and try them.

For me, a family outing to the local fruit farms, especially a ?U-Pick,? was always gleefully anticipated as a summertime ritual. The delicious baked goods and the jellies and jams made from the fruit could be enjoyed into the cold winter months. That is, of course, if they lasted that long.

We still make and love all these things, but taking the extra time and expense to produce wine from the strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and other fruits adds another dimension that will challenge and hone your skills. This is because, unlike grapes (especially those varieties which one may regularly vint year after year), fruits, berries, and other feedstock used to make these wines have less predictable characteristics in their pH, acid, and sugar. Therefore, careful testing and attention to making the proper adjustments is important to producing a good fruit wine.

There is an abundance of websites that have good basic fruit wine recipes, and even recipes to make wine from vegetables and herbs. Simply plug ?fruit wine recipes? into a search engine.

Now for another reason why home winemakers should have a second look at fruit wines. Today, people are more health-conscious than ever. Almost every day for the past decade, starting with ?The French Paradox,? we?ve been bombarded with one clinical study after another that touts the health benefits of drinking red wine in moderation.

Well, surprise! The same health-promoting compounds found in Pinot Noir are found abundantly in fruits and berries. The polyphenol pigments that impart color to the fruit are known collectively as anthocyanins, a family of powerful antioxidants. The compound found in Pinot Noir called resveratrol is produced in greater amounts in this varietal as an antifungal because the skin of the grape is thin and susceptible to splitting. Resveratrol has been studied for its ability to block cell inflammation and oxidative stress related to arthritis and other degenerative diseases, as well as cancer treatment and prevention. *

Blackberries, mulberries, and especially blueberries are rich in powerful antioxidants like resveratrol. Blueberries also contain phytosterol and pterostilbene, which have recently been shown to be useful in lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol, preventing heart disease, and protecting the body against certain cancers.

None of these beneficial compounds are lost in the winemaking process, so why not raise a glass of fruit wine and drink to your health?

*Joseph, J.A., Shukitt-Hale B., Denisova, N.A. Bielinski D., Martin, A., McEwen, J.J., and Bickford, P.C. "Reversal of Age-Related Declines in the Neuronal Signal Transduction, Cognitive, and Motor Behavioral Deficits with Blueberry, Spinach, or Strawberry Dietary Supplementation," Journal of Neuroscience, September 15, 1999, Vol. 19, No. 18. pp. 8114-8121.]

Winemaking Tips from Ande Pazik of

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