By Jay Buchsbaum
Wine can yield an abundance of flavors, including arguably every fruit imaginable (and some not so imaginable). But how many have tried fruit wine? Now, don’t confuse fruit wine with flavored wine or a wine cooler (wine mixed with juice). When searching for a quality fruit wine, make sure you get the real deal: actual wine made from beautiful, perfectly ripe, 100% fruit.
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of Shevat, marks the beginning of a new year for trees. This is the season in which the earliest blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. In Jewish Law, the new year for trees relates to the various tithes that are separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differ from year to year in the seven-year Shemittah cycle; the point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.
We mark Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly those singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Traditionally, we eat a new fruit so we can make the blessing of “Shehecheyanu.” The deeper meaning of the day is to remember that “man is a tree of the field” (Devarim 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue on self-improvement.
What is fruit wine? Just as grape-based wine is the natural fermentation of the juice of the grape, fruit wine is the natural fermentation of the juice of the fruit.
Often you will find that fruit wine may be enhanced with the addition of alcohol or what is known as pot-still brandy, alcohol derived from grapes. As any chef will tell you, if you want great food, start with great ingredients. It’s the same with fruit wine–start with great fruit. When it comes to fruit wines, no one does it better than Israel’s Morad Winery.
Morad Winery is an exclusively non-grape winery that produces full-flavored fruit wine, including lychee and passion fruit, from fruit grown in Israel. With Tu B’Shevat, the celebration of trees and agriculture, around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with fermented fruit from the Holy Land?
Besides drinking Morad’s wine straight (it’s delicious), here are some other recipes for a joyous Tu B’Shevat celebration.
Morad Passion Fruit Sparkler. In a champagne glass, pour 3 ounces of Morad Passion Fruit wine and then top with Prosecco (we recommend Bartenura). Garnish with fresh fruit.
Nectar of the Galilee. Mix 4 ounces of Morad Lychee Wine, 2 ounces of coconut milk, and half an ounce of lime juice. In a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously and strain into champagne cup. If desired, triple the ingredients for this recipe and serve in a hollowed-out coconut shell.
Jay Buchsbaum is vice-president for wine education at Royal Wine.