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9 Cool, Weird, and Wacky Wine Varieties

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Wine can get weird. When planning your next soiree, skip the conventional vino varieties and opt for a type that’s made from unconventional (or straight-up wacky) ingredients or a unique hue. Sip on some inspiration below.

1. ROSE PETAL WINE

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Located in West Sussex, England, the small, family-run Lurgashall Winery produces wines, spirits, and meads from fruit and natural ingredients like birch sap, brambles, honey, and walnuts. The Royal National Rose Society, a specialist plant society in England that focuses on rose care and cultivation, commissioned Lurgashall to make a rose wine from handpicked flower petals. The pink-hued vintage is reportedly aromatic and medium-dry. No word, however, on whether it tastes as fragrant as its parent plant smells.

2. METEORITE WINE

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In 2012, Ian Hutcheon—who then worked as manager of Tremonte Vineyard in Chile's Cachapoal Valley—merged his love of wine and astronomy: He released a Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented in a vat with a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite, believed to have crashed into the Atacama Desert around 6000 years ago. Fittingly, Hutcheon named the vintage "Meteorito."

Originally, Hutcheon only sold the wine at his observatory, Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua, which he opened in 2007. “The idea behind creating the wine was to blend astronomy with winemaking, and offer the wine as an entertaining product visitors to our observatory could take home as a souvenir,” Hutcheon told The Drinks Business in 2013. But the space-inspired wine ended up garnering international attention, and wine lovers from other countries—including the U.S.—clamored to try the celestial drink for themselves.

3. BLUE WINE

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Wine is typically red, white, pink, or yellow. But thanks to a start-up composed of six young Spanish entrepreneurs, we'll soon be able to drink a blue variety. The company—and its wine—is called GIK, and its founders (who have no prior wine-making experience) partnered with the University of the Basque Country and the food research department of the Basque Government to make the cerulean beverage.

Gik's wine is made from a red-and-white grape blend, with a non-calorie sweetener added to the mix. Surprisingly, its vivid hue doesn't come from dye—it reportedly is the result of a natural pigment found in grape skin, combined with indigo from the Isatis tinctoria plant. You can buy Gik online in Europe, and it's also available for pre-order in the U.S.  

4. COFFEE-FLAVORED WINE

Know that feeling near the end of the day, when you're not sure if you need a cup of coffee to perk up or a glass of wine to unwind? Friends Fun Wine certainly does. The Florida-based company sells different types of canned wine, including what they bill as the world's first coffee wine. Currently, it offers Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino, as well as non-coffee beverages like sangria and moscato.

5. PUMPKIN WINE

Not into pumpkin spice lattes? Give its alcoholic cousin—pumpkin wine—a try. Maple River Winery in Casselton, North Dakota, makes the seasonal drink from local pumpkins. According to staff, the autumnal drink is so popular that it sells out quickly each fall (hence it's not listed on their website). However, vineyard visitors can still sample other unusual flavors—including apricot, gooseberry, lilac, and strawberry-rhubarb—depending on their seasonality.

6. CAKE FLAVORED WINE


Birthday Cake Vineyards’ name gets straight to the point. The New York-based company makes wine that, according to them, tastes like birthday cake. Customers can choose among a variety of white wines that taste like strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, and cake batter, and reds flavored like coffee cake and black forest cake.

7. JALAPENO WINE

Cardinal Winery

Brave enough to eat a jalapeno pepper whole? Try drinking an entire bottle of them. Located 30 minutes north of Philadelphia, Cardinal Hollow Winery in West Point, Pennsylvania makes more than 25 different types of wine—including strawberry, blackberry, and dandelion—but one of their best-selling creations is jalapeno wine. If the idea of sipping alcohol made from fiery chili peppers seems more terrifying than tasty, you can still cook with it. Cardinal Hollow Winery recommends using it to marinate meat, sprinkle on salads, and adding it to other types of wine for an added kick.

8. BEER-WINE HYBRIDS

Dogfish Head

Drinkers typically identify as either “wine” or “beer” people, but a handful of breweries have blurred this line (and confused everyone’s taste buds) by creating a variety of unique beer/wine hybrids. Brewers will add grape juice, whole grapes, and must (a blend of skins, seeds, stems, and other grape products) to their product, or ferment beer using wine yeasts.

One notable example is Dogfish Head Brewery, the craft beer heavyweight in Milton, Delaware. One of their beers, called Noble Rot, contains two white wine grapes: pinot gris and viognier grapes. (The latter are infected with a "benevolent fungus" called botrytis, a.k.a. “noble rot,” to reduce their water content and maximize their sweetness.) Another brew, Sixty-One IPA, is made with Syrah grape must. And Midas Touch is a hybrid wine/beer/mead beverage inspired by ingredients found in 2700-year-old drinking vessels that archaeologists discovered in the legendary King Midas’s tomb.

9. VODKA WINE

In 2012, Absolut Vodka launched Tune, a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc spiked with vodka. (It reportedly had a 14 percent ABV, which suggests that the drink had relatively little actual hard alcohol in it.) The following year, Tune was recalled in 10 states after it was discovered that the brand didn’t disclose whether the wine contained sulfates. Eventually, Tune was discontinued, but a few online retailers still appear to sell it.

BONUS: WINE MADE FROM GRAPES GROWN IN SPACE (FORTHCOMING)

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In the future, humans may enjoy wine made from grapes grown in a plant growth chamber on the International Space Station. In 2015, officials announced that the commercial spacecraft SpaceX Dragon would deliver wine grape seeds to the habitable satellite on its upcoming commercial resupply mission that April. Turns out, wine grapes are perfect for space travel: they don’t require much water, they produce strong fruit, and they yield little waste.

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11 Common Misconceptions About Beer
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If beer only conjures up images of frat boys pounding cans of the cheap stuff or doughy sports fans reveling in the alcoholic refreshment before, during, and after a big game, think again. Beer has come a long way, baby, and many of the preconceived notions about the beverage are decidedly unfair, as evidenced by the following 11 fabrications.

1. BEER SHOULD BE SERVED ICE COLD.

All of those neon ice cold beer signs are actually bad news for beer drinkers. To properly enjoy their beer, it should be served at 44 degrees Fahrenheit (with a little leeway depending on the type of beer you’re drinking—a barrel-aged Stout, for example, should be served only lightly chilled). The reason is that taste buds become dead to the taste of the drink when it is served any colder, which means you’re not really tasting anything or getting the most enjoyment out of your beer.

2. FROSTED BEER MUGS KEEP IT CLASSY.

Piggybacking on the falsehood that beer should be guzzled cold, it also shouldn’t be served in a frosted beer mug. Would you serve wine in a frosted glass? No. An intensely cold beer mug will also numb your senses to the taste of the beer.

3. ALL DARK BEERS ARE HEAVY.

If you’ve been avoiding dark beers because you fear their intensity, you’ve been sorely misguided. “People naturally assume they are heavier,” says Hallie Beaune, a rep for Allagash Brewing Company and author of The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer. “I think it’s that connection to Guinness, which promotes itself as creamy and almost like a meal, that’s the feeling they give in their commercials. For a lot of people that’s the first dark beer they’ve had so they assume they’re all similar when, really, dark beers are just dark because of the roast level of the malt that’s used in the beer.”

4. GUINNESS IS INHERENTLY FROTHY.

Sure, Guinness is served all creamy and delicious-looking, but Beaune explains it has less to do with the beer itself and everything to do with the tap most stouts use, which has more nitrogen than the standard tap (generally a mix of nitrogen and CO2). To deliver all that frothiness, a stout faucet, which has a long, narrow spout, is used.

5. DRINKING BEER FROM THE BOTTLE IS THE BEST WAY TO ENJOY IT.

Sure, a bottle may look more refined than a can, but it’s still not the appropriate vessel. “Drinking beer from the bottle is another no-no, mostly because what you taste comes from your olfactory senses from your nose, so if you take a sip of something from that kind of bottle your nose isn’t participating at all,” says Beaune. “It’s too small for you to get a whiff of the beer. Just like if you were drinking red wine out of a wine bottle, you wouldn’t really be able to evaluate that wine.”

6. YOU CAN STORE BEER ANYWHERE.

Think again! All beer should be stored in a refrigerator. It responds best to cold, dark storage.

7. "SKUNKY" IS JUST A CUTE WORD FOR BEER GONE BAD.

There is actually a reason why seemingly rancid beer is termed "skunky." “Light can hurt beer—they call it lightstruck,” says Beaune. “The light interacts with the hops in beer (the four ingredients in beer are malt, water, hops and yeast), and it can actually have this chemical reaction that creates a smell that’s the same as a skunk gives off, which is why you hear about skunky beer.”

8. ALL BEER BOTTLES ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Darker bottles are important. Clear or green bottles may be pretty, but they’re not doing much to protect your beer from light. Dark beer bottles work best to help retain its intended flavor.

9. CANNED BEER MEANS CHEAP BEER.

Cans are actually a great way to protect beer, but in the old days they would often give the beverage an aluminum taste. “Most of the cans the craft breweries are using nowadays have a water-based liner so the beer isn’t actually touching the aluminum,” says Beaune. “It can be really good for beer. Cans heat up and cool down very quickly, too, so you obviously want to keep them cold.”

10. BEER IS MUCH SIMPLER THAN WINE.

You’ve got your four ingredients—malt, yeast, water and hops—what could be more basic than that? Manipulating those ingredients in various ways will give you different varieties, but breweries are doing some really cool stuff by adding flavors you’d never dream would work so well in beer. “A lot of the flavor in beer comes from the malt or the hops or yeast, but then there’s all of this freedom in beer,” says Beaune. “We did a beer at Allagash called Farm to Face, which is a pretty tart and sour beer. We added fresh peaches to it from a local farm. You can’t do that with wine—you can’t add peaches. People add everything you can imagine to beer like pineapple, coconut, every fruit—there are no rules. That’s one of the fun things about beer, it’s a lot like cooking, you can add rosemary, you can add whatever you want. Everybody experiments. It keeps the beer world really interesting.”

11. BEER WILL GIVE YOU A BEER BELLY, BUT COCKTAILS WON'T.

Sure, anything in excess will contribute to weight gain, but beer is hardly the most calorie-laden drink you’ll find in a bar. Much of the flack beer gets (i.e. the “beer belly”) goes back to the fallacy that beer is particularly heavy. “Most glasses of wine are pretty high in alcohol and a lot of cocktails are way higher in calories,” says Beaune. “If you drink a margarita that’s one of the highest calorie things you can drink.”

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Spain's Famous Blue Wine Is Coming to America
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Last year, a Spanish startup caused a stir when it introduced its electric-blue wine to markets in Europe. Now, after receiving preorders for more than 30,000 bottles from American customers, the eye-catching beverage is finally ready to make its way to the U.S., Eater reports.

The bright blue drink, dubbed Gïk, is the creation of six young entrepreneurs with no previous experience in the winemaking industry. They collaborated with University of the Basque Country and the food research department of the Basque Government to make the product.

Gïk is made from a blend of red and white grapes with a non-calorie sweetener added in. Though the color resembles something you'd find in the cleaning supplies aisle, the ingredients that create the effect are all natural. A pigment found in grape skin and indigo from the Isatis tinctoria plant (commonly known as woad) are responsible for the wine's alarming hue.

The shade—which according to co-founder Aritz López represents "movement, innovation, fluidity, change, and infinity"—is intended to appeal to Millennial buyers. With an alcohol content percentage of 11.5, Gïk is comparable to a white zinfandel or prosecco, and a pack of three bottles retails for $48.

The Basque region of Spain is traditionally known for its sparkling, acidic wine, but Gïk was designed to stand out from the current options. In 2016, López told Eater that his team felt the Spanish wine scene was "missing a little revolution," so they set out to create something innovative. But it turned out to be a little too innovative for the company's own good: According to Spanish law, only red or white wine can be sold in local markets, and Gïk was fined €3000 (about $3600) for violating the rule. Following the controversy, they were forced to drop the "wine" label and start branding the concoction as "99% wine and 1% grape must."

Standards are less strict in the U.S., and when bottles reach markets stateside they will be flying under the wine banner once again. Gïk will make its U.S. debut in stores in Miami, Boston, and Texas before hopefully expanding to retailers in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Washington, California, and Nevada. And while they may have the blue wine market cornered, there's at least one blue-hued beer brand out there Gïk will be competing with.

[h/t Eater]

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