Ask Wine Wizard

Adding Sambuca to Wine


Lisa Watson — Parker Cove, British Columbia asks,

My wine is thin and rather tasteless and I’m days away from bottling. Can I add a little sambuca for flavor?

Well I like your moxie. Sometimes it takes a little thinking outside the box to really make our beverages sing, and in your case (though it would be anathema to a commercial winery, for which this kind of thing is prohibited by law) you just might want to give it a try. That’s perhaps the best thing about being a home winemaker: Freedom. You can add anything you want to your wines. Maple syrup? Why not. Dried rose petals? Sure. Kitty litter — if you want (oh wait, that’s bentonite; we already can add that legally to wine). Because of labelling laws (a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon has to be over 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, for example) and truth in advertising (not to mention health regulations) I have to hew by federal and state rules. You and all of your home winemaking buddies do not have to; you are governed only by your own tastes and what kind of crazy stuff you want to subject yourselves to. Sambuca (an Italian, colorless anise-flavoured liqueur) is an interesting addition choice, for sure. If
Response by Alison Crowe.