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Food scientist finds line separating fruit and vegetable wine from 'plonk'

By Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.

In the past, wine made from New York state fruit, like strawberries, apples, cherries and peaches, and vegetables, like rhubarb, has been considered the ugly step-child of winemaking. That was then.

This is now: Thanks to new Cornell research, full, robust-flavor fruit or vegetable wines could become available on a wider basis. (The late) Robert Kime, food science pilot plant manager at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., believes he has found the alcohol-content threshold that separates fine fruit wine from cheap, inferior wine -- what the British call "plonk."

"It's a fine line," said Kime, explaining that when winemakers, commercial and domestic, allow the fruit-fermentation process to exceed an alcohol content of 10.5 percent, the wine's flavor can be ruined. Kime, who has worked with a number of wineries in the New York Finger Lakes region, notes that winemakers invariably sacrifice flavor by making fruit wine with the same alcohol content as wine made from grapes.

Grape wine can have an alcohol content as high as 11 or 12 percent and still be excellent. However, Kime said, alcohol is a solvent that can react with and dissolve flavor compounds in other fruits and vegetables when it reaches levels of 11 percent or higher.

"Higher alcohol content vaporizes the flavors, and they escape through the bubbler overnight," he said.

To prevent fruit wine from becoming tasteless or cloying, Kime suggests stopping the fermentation cold. When the fermenting fruit or vegetables reach about 10.5 percent alcohol, he halts fermentation by refrigeration at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Search ale yeast for a 10% alcohol tolerance yeast for your fruit wines.  You will be glad you did. 

Apple Cider and apple variety list I found, source unknown

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