October 19, 2015
Let the countdown begin for Halloween! For the occasion, we decided to introduce you to some of the most uncommon wines you may never encounter. And this is not about rare grapes or underrated wines – today, we’re talking weird. A great way to remember that wine tasting truly is an adventure!
First on the list is pumpkin wine, aka the seasonal wine par excellence. To produce this unlikely wine, grated pumpkin is mixed with other ingredients, including sugar, water, and yeast, and is then aged for about 1-2 years. Pumpkin wine is perfect for those fall and winter parties and can be served either chilled or warmed with an orange or lemon or slice, or a touch of honey. Pumpkin wine is not easy to come across, but North Dakota Maple River Winery produces the semi-sweet white with their local pumpkins. Add it to your Thanksgiving dinner, your guests will be surprised!
No, it does not sound extremely appealing to us either. Snake wine – also known as Ruou Ran, or ruợu rắn in Vietnamese– is a traditional Southeast Asian beverage that is meant to have medicinal value and allegedly endows virility. The wine is prepared by infusing a whole snake (preferably venomous: the alcohol cancels the effects of the poison) in rice wine, sometimes with medicinal herbs, for months. As if snake wine weren’t disconcerting enough, there’s also snake bile wine… I’ll leave this one to your imagination.
Another potent beverage, very popular in China, involves the use of a whole lizard (usually a gecko). Valued for its medicinal qualities, the reptile (the more poisonous, the better) marinates in bottles of rice wine or whiskey for up to a year. Hejie jiu, as it is traditionally called, is served by the shot, similarly to snake wine, due to its high level of alcohol.
You might have already heard of Retsina, especially if you explored Greece. To put it simply, it is a Greek wine made with a base of white wine or rosé, flavored with pine resin – yes, the tree. Retsina has been made for over 2000 years, and has its roots in early winemaking practices. Lacking airtight containers for fermentation, many wines spoiled as a result of exposure to oxygen. To solve this problem, winemakers began to seal their wine jugs with pine resin to keep the air out, which at the same time infused the wine with resin aroma. Consumers quickly developed a taste for the resinous wine, and today, Retsina is still fermented with tree resin. Obviously, the wine has a very acquired taste.
Birch Sap Wine
As the name says, this spring wine involves extracting sap from birch trees – the method is often compared to maple sugar tapping. Sugar, lemon and white wine yeast are generally added before fermentation, and the result is a medium-bodied dry wine. Many produce their own birch sap wine at home; why don’t you?
Rose Petal Wine
More of a funny anecdote than anything: the British Lurgashall Winery was commissioned by the Royal National Rose Society to create a rosé wine. They took it literally, giving the wine its pink hue, fragrance and flavor from handpicked rose petals. Another “DIY” wine you can try to make yourself at home!