Wine Chronicles: Why Not Apple-Fruit Cocktail?


So I had a few cans of fruit cocktail that I purchased with the idea that I’d make “rum pot”, yeast-fermented fruit cocktail that is a little like Amish friendship bread: once you get it up and running, you can give some away to your friends.  I specifically purchased a tropical fruit cocktail because it didn’t include the unnaturally red cherries with their beetle-derived color (carmine), and it had no added corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Realizing, though, that I needed to keep feeding the living rum pot with more fruit cocktail to keep it going, I decided to go in another direction…what kind of wine could I make?

Searching for fruit cocktail wine recipes online resulted in being served articles about making “prison wine”; frankly, it sounded like fairly rough-drinking stuff, and most of the recipes called for lots ingredients other than the fruit cocktail (like oranges and raisins). I also read some posts that described fruit cocktail-based wine as lacking flavor in the finished product…not promising. What to do, then? Improvise, of course.

After assessing the ingredients I had available, I decided to make wine with an unsweetened apple juice base and a 15 ounce can of the tropical fruit cocktail, with the hope that some of the tropical flavors would come through in the final product: first, I made the apple wine base, then mashed the fruit cocktail and added it (and its syrup) to the base. Anticipating the “haze”, I added a bit of extra pectic enzyme, too. I also decided to use some yeast slurry from a berry wine, knowing that some complementary flavor from the berries may come through.

Clockwise from top left: apple juice; mashed fruit cocktail; the must prior to the yeast being added; fermentation after a couple of days.

The yeast has been pitched and the brew is bubbling away; I’ll leave it to work its magic in the primary fermentor for a few days, then move it to a secondary fermentor (jug). So far, it smells pretty good, but there is definitely a chance that the fruit cocktail either won’t add anything interesting to the flavor profile (or possibly add something unpleasant). Clearing may also be a problem, but we’ll “cross that bridge when we get there”, if needed – I keep bentonite clay on hand, and it can be used as a fining (clearing) agent. Fortunately, one-gallon batches are a low risk endeavor: worst case scenario, if the wine is not appealing to drink, you find some other use for it (marinade?). I could also see getting creative and turning it into something else entirely with infused fruit or herbs, too…but only if necessary! 

Do you think this will be a winner or one I won’t make to make again? Let us know in the comments – and stay tuned for updates on how this wine progresses!


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