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In vino veritas, part XXIII: Embrace all fruit

I first started mulling over this idea when I came across a display of blueberry wine from Newfoundland at the local liquor store. I ended up purchasing a bottle out of pure curiosity — nothing great, but still a uniquely sweet flavor. Then I wondered, how might the obscure fruit-borne alcohols like this one (or the sparkling cranberry wine right next to it) be used in a restaurant setting?

Novelty

Some people have more rigid taste buds and will stick with merlot or sauvignon blanc no matter what you say to cajole them. Others might be more adventurous and go alchemical tincture of one eclectic fruit or another if it’s on the menu.

Dessert

Again, people come in all shapes and sizes. Some will opt for no dessert, others will order that triple chocolate mousse they’ve been dreaming of all week. Others still may forgo cake or pie in favor of a candied libation. Dessert wines are the automatic choice, and then you have sherry, pear brandy and whatever other peculiar concoction that’s available.

Mixology

A splash or ounce of wine is a necessary ingredient for many of the more popular cocktails. By using a more eclectic “wine” you might also serve to differentiate your drink menu and give patrons a flavor they’ve never quite experienced before.

Jam tastings

Wines pair exquisitely well with cheeses, and by now you should at least have a rudimentary sense of how to guide a neophyte on how to go about this properly. The creamy and stinky tasting notes of cheeses also work with the sugary and tart flavors of various jams. Try matching a cabernet sauvignon with a few drops of raspberry jam sprinkled over a chunk of parmesan. Blueberry jam seems to mesh swimmingly with brie as well. I’m sure you can figure out your own suggested pairings, or when you present a cheeseboard to a table, just leave a few jams out for people to mix as they see fit. In this way, the food transcends nourishment, beginning a shared interactive experience.

Fruit pairings

Taking jam one step further, why pair wines and cheeses with a preserve when you could go straight to the source? Using the aforementioned examples, try pairing a cabernet sauvignon with a single, fresh raspberry atop a hunk of firm cheese. Next, go for a crisp, high-alcohol-content riesling or tart chardonnay with a lone blueberry embedded into a slice of soft brie or camembert.

Experiment

Whether you’ve dabbling in blueberry wine or finding the best match for a fig jam, the bottom line is that this will require a fair amount of experimentation to find what works best and what’s worth presenting to your patrons. But that’s all part of the fun, and maybe this process is something you shouldn’t exclude your guests from either. Perhaps you could leave a tray of assorted sweet fruits (and potentially some olives for saltiness) out alongside a cheeseboard for an appetizer, and then let the table decide which combination they enjoy the most.

Above all, remember: it’s not just food — it’s an experience. You should aim to give people something new and exciting. By embracing all fruit, you are opening the doors to many more possibilities to help in this way.

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