If you've tried blue wine yet, you know that the bright-colored vintage actually looks wilder than it tastes, since it's made from just grapes. For wines that truly deliver a flavor shock, look to vintners who are experimenting with out-there ingredients, making wine with everything from avocado to garlic, tomatoes, pumpkin, tree sap or even a chunk of meteorite. These 10 oddball fermentations are among the strangest we’ve ever seen, and provide further evidence of the human tendency to turn just about anything into alcohol.
In a state known for exotic-fruit hooch, Schnebly Redland’s Winery outdoes other Floridian vintners by making avocado wines. (Unlike avocado toast, the wine hasn’t yet sparked a crime wave.) The winemakers peel and pit alligator pears, then blend the flesh with water, sugar and yeast before fermenting the brew in stainless steel vats. In addition to dry and sweet all-avocado wines, they turn out blends made with coconut and guava.
If you're totally over the PSL but could go for some pumpkin-spiced booze, this is your wine: A few vintners, such as California Fruit Wine Co., go all-in by adding pumpkin-pie spices after the pumpkin-fermentation process, creating a semi-sweet, fall-flavored vintage.
Gilroy, California, claims the title of “garlic capital of the world” and fittingly, the local Rapazzini Winery makes four garlic-infused wines, two reds and two whites. British wine expert Oz Clarke once braved the garlic white wine, describing it as an “unholy alliance of flavors” once he un-squinched his face and stopped spitting.
Photo courtesy of Centro Astronómico Tagua Tagua.
Describing Meteorito wine as "cosmic" isn't hippie-ish—it's accurate. Winemaker Ian Hutcheon, who also runs an astronomy center in Chile, decided to bring an extraterrestrial element to his Cabernet Sauvignon by placing a chunk of 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite into the aging barrel. Here's hoping Hutcheon will try making a sparkling wine next, since Champagne's rumored inventor supposedly called it “drinking the stars."
Maple tree sap
Add the word “maple” to a drink and it becomes irresistible: Witness maple lattes, beer, cocktails, even maple water. Will maple wine catch on next? In western Massachusetts, Vermont, Nova Scotia, and other spots along North America’s maple belt, farmers sometimes blend grape wines with maple syrup or ferment straight-up maple sap. The earthily sweet result works well as a dessert wine.
Photo courtesy of Instagram/chloecesar.
Fruit wine is a thing, and tomatoes are a fruit after all—so into the bottle they go.Omerto, made in Quebec, Canada, relies on a secret family recipe for a pale-gold wine made from heirloom tomatoes. Winemaker Pascal Miche produces dry and sweet versions of this aperitif wine, comparing them to Sauvignon Blanc and white port. Down in Florida, the Florida Orange Groves Winery makes a spicier tomato wine, spiked with hot peppers.
Back in 2006, a Catholic diocese in California’s Bay Area decided to try an unusual kind of planting in its cemeteries. Faced with the expensive upkeep of some unused cemetery land, the diocese decided to plant wine grapes rather than the usual lawn. The results were so good that the operation, Bishop’s Vineyard, now sells a half-dozen wines, including a new sparkling rosé. While the vines grow near but not on the graves, it only makes sense that they'd benefit from their proximity to such … soil enrichment.
If you’re a fan of tropical-fruit aromas in your Chardonnay or Riesling, you could skip the grape altogether and plunge into an all-mango wine. Several southern Florida wineries, as well as Island Mana on Kauai, Hawaii, make this sweet tipple.
Photo courtesy of Instagram/jin_winepairings
No less a wine-soaked country than France has gotten hooked on rosé mixed with grapefruit juice. But how about wine made from grapefruit juice? Look to Florida, where juice from the state’s famous pink grapefruit gets aged for several months to ferment and mellow its tart edge.
“Lilac wine is sweet and heady, like my love...” You'll start humming “Lilac Wine” if you get your hands on a hard-to-find bottle of this pink concoction, made from lilac blossoms. Try some from North Dakota’s Maple River Winery or coax a curious, thirsty local forager to test a recipe when the flowers bloom in spring.