Wine, No Grapes Included

At the end of the day, wine, whether it is good or bad, red or white, cheap or expensive, is basically aged and fermented grape juice.   Turns out, grapes are not the only fruit used to make wine, nor is wine made from grapes the oldest form. That distinction belongs to honey wine, also known as Mead,  which is still a popular drink in Ethiopia. 

Many cultures around the world and throughout history have developed unique wines depending on what is readily available. In Japan, Korea, and China, plum wine (also known as shōchū) was popular for centuries before wine from grapes was even introduced.  Sake, or rice wine, has also been popular in Japan for centuries.  Both are clear colorless wines,  though Sake is noticeably drier than sweet plum wine.   They are both still popular in all three countries and are often available at Asian restaurants in the US, as well.

Across Southwest Asia, however, and parts of Africa, Palm Wine is the sweet, milky, and mildly intoxicating drink of choice – made from the sap of coconut palms.

No matter what is used to make a wine, the process of making it is generally the same and requires the presence of sugar (from fruit, sap, or honey), yeast, and water. By mixing the three together and allowing them to sit for a while, the chemical reaction by which yeast converts sugar to alcohol will inevitably occur and, hence, wine is produced.

In this way, a wine can be made from almost anything (and somewhere in the world, invariably is) from vegetables like chives and carrots, to fruits and berries – such as bananas, kiwis, strawberries, and cherries.