Strange Wine

Humans are by nature curious creatures, and wine is one of our earliest discoveries. So it is natural to assume that we have experimented with several ways of making wine over the ages. Grapes are the most common source of wine in modern culture, but other fruit wines can also be found in abundance. Mead, a honey-based wine, is also quite popular. And we occasionally hear references to somewhat more exotic wines, like rosehip wine. American winemakers have been particularly innovative, especially in regions which are not conducive to growing grapes of the noble variety (cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, etc.).

Dandelion wine is a popular choice. Need a recipe to make your own? Try one of these:

Some friends of ours began delving into the art of home winemaking a couple years back. When they sent us a bottle of their ginger wine, I was pleasantly surprised When they told me they had tried to make a basil wine, I was mildly puzzled, but intrigued. When they created a batch of coffee wine -- and then sent us a bottle -- I was downright frightened.

How far must we push the envelope? As a scientist, I applaud efforts to discover new and exciting possibilities. But coffee wine? My response to that was to set some limits on this trend... and I do so officially, here and now:

The Top 30 Items I Don't Want to See Made Into Wine

coffee wine label
  1. Alka-Seltzer (a sparkling wine)
  2. apple stems
  3. asphalt
  4. avocado and red onion
  5. barbeque sauce (this wine should go well with meats)
  6. blood sample (type O- universal donor wine)
  7. cole slaw
  8. complete three-course meal
  9. cream cheese
  10. Dr. Pepper
  11. green eggs and ham
  12. gruel
  13. gypsum
  14. Heath Bar
  15. ice
  16. iceberg lettuce
  17. Lorenzo's oil
  18. mako shark
  19. monosodium glutumate
  20. mucilage
  21. Nutrasweet
  22. onion rings
  23. Palmolive ("bring out the wine" "you're soaking in it...")
  24. Pepto Bismol (if it makes you nauseous, just drink some more!)
  25. puppy chow
  26. red dye #2
  27. sardines
  28. venus flytrap
  29. vinegar (if people complain the wine is vinegary, say "why, thank you!")
  30. Webster's Dictionary

Searching through the World Wide Web, I found quite a few other exotic samplings from the imaginative winemaking department, all of these legitimate wines indeed:

Which brings us to the question of the week: What is the strangest wine you have ever tasted? Please send your experiences to me at, and I will publish the most interesting responses in the column. If possible, send the recipes as well. And remember, these must be REAL wines.

Submissions received to date:

New! I am currently brewing a christmas cake wine. I used a 3/4 pound christmas pudding and a 1 pound fruit cake, added 2 pounds of sugar, poured 5 pints of boiling water over them, added a crushed campden tablet and 24 hours later added the yeast. It has fermented well, although as with coconut wine, a 'crusty' layer of vegetable fat forms on the top. The wine just needs to be syphoned from underneath it. Check out my website (being developed) in July where I will list some more of my recipes. Submitted by Louise Robinson.
I just finished bottling 5 gallons of Birch Sap wine. In April I tapped the trees (the temp. must be below freezing at night and above 50 deg f for sap to flow). Produced a very light, dry wine that will make you climb a tree! Excellent and worth the time and effort. Now I have a Blueberry Port (30 lbs of berrys for 5 gallons) It better be worth it. Submitted by T. J. Hinkle.
Florida Oranges Groves, Inc. and Winery produces several fruit wines including : grapefruit, orange filtered through coffee, carrot, plum cot (or pluot®, a plum-apricot hybrid patented by Zaiger Genetics), tangelo, and tomato aged with hot peppers. Submitted by Ron White.

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