Fruit wines have such a long and celebrated history that crafting your own plum wine is considered a fun pastime in countries like Ireland. What other hobbies would you expect from the people who gifted the world with Guinness? While plum wine has been celebrated the world over for its delicious flavors, the drink originates in Japan. That's right; the Japanese have contributed more to your liquor cabinet than just sake and whiskey. Who would have thought?
Plum wine is a fermented beverage made from, you guessed it, plums. Sort of. More on that later. It isn't really wine in the strictest sense, but a plum-flavored liqueur. Winemakers use the same techniques for making grape wines, including equipment that helps rid the fruit of bugs and debris. Depending on the winery, the process might include crushing the plums in a spinner to separate the skins from the juices.
Some people confuse plum wine with sake, and they probably get some strange looks at hibachi restaurants. Sake, however, is made from rice and is more similar to a beer in how it's produced, while plum wine is more akin to traditional wine. The Japanese name for plum wine is umeshu.
If we're getting technical, it's important to note that plum wine is from the fruit of the Prunus Mume tree, which is not exactly as Americans know it. The fruit is related to plums and apricots, though, and it is even called a Chinese plum or Japanese apricot, so close enough. Who are we to argue semantics?
Umeshu is made by steeping Japanese ume fruits in alcohol while they're still green and unripe. The result is a distinctively sweet, sour taste with broad appeal. In fact, even those who normally don't like alcohol are taken in by umeshu's charms.
How to Drink It:
Plum wine has a beautiful amber color with a light, heady aroma that contributes to its unique flavor. Drink it chilled and poured into a cold wine glass. You can also drink it on the rocks or mix it with warm water for a satisfying wintertime beverage.
Due to its high sugar content, plum wine is best served on its own as an apéritif or dessert wine. It also shines as a cocktail beverage. Mix it with some gin, yellow chartreuse and prosecco for a delightful Asian plum spritzer.
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