Ask Wine Wizard

Are there any fruits that are taboo in country winemaking? What tests should I do to ensure nobody becomes ill from my country wines?

TroubleShooting

Larry Cummins — Negros Oriental, Philippines asks,
Q

After moving to the Philippines, I was impressed with the wide variety of fruits at my disposal and the possibility of making wines. I worry, though, because many of the wine musts have high acidity and I am a novice in this endeavor. Are there any fruits that are taboo in country winemaking? What tests should I do to ensure nobody becomes ill from my wines?

A
I wouldn’t worry too much about anyone getting sick from your wines as long as the water you use is clean and the alcohol is above 10%. As a professor of enology at UC-Davis used to always say in class, “No human pathogen can survive in wine.” Essentially this means that since wine (and she was talking about a typical grape wine here, by the way) has such a high level of alcohol and acid (typically 11%+ and 5.0 g/L+ respectively), no microbe disease agent that can harm people would be able to survive in that kind of hostile environment. So I wouldn’t worry about giving your friends food poisoning as long as your beverages have those kinds of statistics too. You might be concerned, however, with the palatability and the practicality of turning some of your more exotic fruits into wines. Fruit wines (or “country wines” as they’re sometimes called) can be a challenge to make because of the raw material itself and often need to be blended with other juices (or diluted with water and/or grape juice) to
Response by Alison Crowe.