Oh, baby. Spring is here, and love is in the air. A picnic. Some good cheese. A glass of wine . . . some fruit wine would be nice.
What the heck is fruit wine? What does that mean? Well, it means wines traditionally not made with grapes, apples, or pears. Normally, we drink wine made from grapes. And, of course, cider and perry is made with apples and pears.
That leaves other fruits: currants, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, and more.
There is a tradition of making these wines in regions where grapes in the past were not grown with tremendous effectiveness. However, these days the Hudson Valley, specifically, has garnered a tremendous reputation for highly prized fruit wines. They are decadent wines that have an absolutely huge fan base in this region.
THE HUDSON VALLEY HAS GARNERED A TREMENDOUS REPUTATION FOR HIGHLY PRIZED FRUIT WINES.
Fruit wines are often created as dessert wines. There’s nothing like a bowl of really good vanilla ice cream and a glass of Hudson Valley cassis. Another fabulous idea is to have a glass of strawberry dessert wine with a slice of New York cheesecake! Or how about wowing your friends with a flourless dark chocolate cake and a glass of raspberry dessert wine? However, these would all go well with locally made cheeses as well.
When it comes to dessert wine, the most prized fruit wine in the Hudson Valley is cassis. Made from black currants, cassis is a big, dark, inky dessert wine, with a nice pop of acid, which keeps the wine honest and from tasting like a lollipop. The tartness of the natural fruit balances the sweetness, so that even dry wine lovers usually really enjoy a glass. The Hudson Valley is the largest producer of artisanal cassis in North America, and Clinton Vineyards is probably the most famous by far, winning awards and accolades by the bunches. Cassis is also a popular component in mixed drinks. The French invented the Kir (white wine with some cassis) and the Kir Royale (sparkling with cassis) to serve to folks on festive occasions and before dinner. Others have invented numerous cocktails, including the El Diablo. It’s also great in punches.
RASPBERRY is probably the next most popular favorite fruit wine. Raspberries, like currants, have a decent amount of acidity, so that the wine has great balance and complexity and can handle the sweetness. There are a great many raspberry dessert wines in the valley, especially Hudson-Chatham Winery’s raspberry, which has won numerous awards and three gold medals.
STRAWBERRIES are another popular fruit. And no one in the Northeast makes a more famous or more fabulous strawberry wine than Baldwin Vineyards. They’ve been written up in The New York Times and have won dozens of medals for their strawberry wine. It is big and full of strawberry flavor, like someone just smooshed a big handful of strawberries in a bowl.
CASSIS PRODUCERS IN THE HUDSON VALLEY:
CHERRY is another popular fave. Brookview Station’s Cherry Porter is a classic port made from rich, ripe cherries. Bursting with flavor and intensity, this is a beautiful wine begging for a bit of Stilton cheese. And, of course, one of the most famous cherry dessert wines in the valley is the famous Pazdar Cerise Cherry. Pazdar was the first to make chocolate wine in the US, and his cherry-chocolate dessert bomb is a perennial favorite in the New York metro region. Try and get near his stand at a wine festival during the year!
PEACH is another stone fruit that has people always looking for something different. Adair Vineyard Peche is the standard by which everyone must judge a peach wine. When you open the bottle, the smell wafts out, making you feel like you’ve just bitten into the most perfect peach ever. This is the ideal celebration wine in the spring—fantastic, light, and bright like a bowl of fresh peaches!
ENJOY THESE WINES WITH CHEESE AND DESSERTS, IN A COCKTAIL OR PUNCH, OR JUST SIP THEM BY THEMSELVES.
These are fabulous wines with real flavor, zip, and integrity. These aren’t your momma’s fruit mixers. These are truly artisanal wines with great flavor made with local fruit. They’re the real deal. They are also sexy and sinful. With the warming breezes in the air and the sunlight warming you, it’s time to let your hair down. So, turn up the music, turn down the lights, and slip into something a little more comfortable. And open a bottle of Hudson Valley fruit wine. C’mon. Love is in the air.
3 bottles dry white wine
1 1/2 cups Hudson Valley cassis
1 pint strawberries
Combine wine and cassis in a punch bowl. Thinly slice oranges and strawberries, and add to bowl. Chill with large block of ice or ice ring.