Winemaking is not restricted to the traditional wine grapes (there are rice wines, for example). But we’ve discovered more exotic, weird, and extreme wines that use unconventional ingredients and winemaking procedures.
If you’re a wine lover looking for something different, then prepare your palates (and your guts) to try these unusual, exotic, and strange wines from around the world.
Let’s start with something tame — and agreeable! Pairing wine with chocolate may be nothing out of the ordinary. However, some winemakers had the brilliant idea to combine the two together to create a chocolate-flavored wine! Now, that’s what you call a perfect “dessert wine.”
A number of companies have taken it upon themselves to produce these two indulgences. For instance, Cocoa di Vine brings a seductive blend of rich chocolate cream with white wine made from Argentinian grapes. You can enjoy it on its own or pair it with desserts, such as cakes, cookies, and ice cream.
Alcoholic drinks from various fruits, such as strawberry, blackberry, and pineapple, are pretty common. But only a few people are familiar with alcoholic beverages from coconut.
However, the Philippines is among the few countries that make fermented alcoholic drinks out of palm trees, such as coconut trees. A Filipino winemaking company Vino de Coco produces organic wines made from coconut, introducing three distinct variants: Dry Red Coconut Wine, Sweet Red Coconut Wine, and Sweet White Coconut Wine. The Dry Red has a smooth taste and makes a perfect complement to any meal, while the Sweet Red is an ideal partner for a selection of desserts, including chocolate tart, rhubarb crumble, and plum pudding.
Now, we’re about to go into something a bit more unusual. The common nettle or stinging nettle is one of the popular wild plants for foraging and is best eaten when tender. Who would have thought that they could be made into wines?
But apparently, a few adventurous winemakers have this novel idea of turning these wild plants into wine. Nettle wines are made from the tiny flowering buds that appear at the top of the plant. These flower buds are edible, although anyone picking them is advised to wear protective gloves to avoid hours of pain and itching. As straight nettle wine alone lacks “oomph” and character, infusing it with extra ingredients like ginger root, lemon thyme, or parsley will help bring out its flavor much better. Usually dry, light, and crisp, nettle wine is best served chilled as an aperitif or with poultry, seafood, and summer salads.
Also known as marijuana-infused wine, pot pine, or cannawine, cannabis wine is actually used as an infusion to traditional grape wines. As cannabis has become more popular in the US, especially in many states where it is legal for medical and recreational use, products like cannabis oil, cannabis brownies, and cannabis candies are in high (pardon the pun) demand.
In California, several winemakers have started producing this potent drop, usually infusing cannabis with wines made of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It is said that this combination delivers a “high” that’s a lot quicker than cannabis brownies and produces an “interesting little buzz.”
Usually, when you pop open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, you can expect to find “notes” in it, such as notes of black currant, black cherries, spices, tobacco, wood, green bell peppers, and vanilla.
But how does a meteorite wine taste like? Does it have the faintest notes of… meteorite?
You can find this unusual wine in Chile, where English winemaker Ian Hutcheon created the product. The meteorite, assumed to have crashed into the Atacama Desert in northern Chile about 6,000 years ago, is soaked in the wine during fermentation. According to Hutcheon, the meteorite infusion gives the wine a “livelier taste.” But it’s better if you try it out yourself.
Tiger bone wine
Now, things get a little weirder. In countries like China, Taiwan, and South Korea, tiger bone wines are still commonly made and sold as medicine. Tiger bone wine has actually been made for centuries.
The wines are made by soaking tiger bones and skeletons in the wine for varying periods. Then the bones are removed before the beverage is bottled. This weird wine is said to cure all ailments.
Another exotic wine, reptile wine is found throughout China and Southeast Asia. Reptiles (usually snakes, geckos, and lizards), as well as arachnids (mostly scorpions) are soaked in rice wine and grain alcohol for infusion.
Like tiger bone wine, reptile wine is believed to have medicinal properties and is even said to be an excellent aphrodisiac.
Bear bile wine
Another exotic and strange wine on the list is bear bile wine. To create this wine, the bile has to be fresh and obtained from distressed live bears. Not surprisingly, this horrific procedure has drawn sharp criticism from animal rights groups.
The wine consists of Chinese cassia (or Chinese cinnamon), orange peel, jujube, fennel seed, and of course, bear bile, which gives the beverage a bright taste. Like tiger bone and reptile wine, the bear bile wine is thought to have medicinal properties.
Deer penis wine
Have you ever come across a wine as disgusting as deer penis wine? Well, this weird wine from China is quite expensive – at US$12 a glass or up to $450 a bottle. Like the other weird Chinese wines mentioned, it is thought to have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
If tiger, bear bile, reptile, or deer penis wine didn’t gross you out, then maybe this Korean wine will. Perhaps, this is the wine that will end all disgusting wines.
The wine, called ttongsol, is made of feces from children aged 4 to 7 years old. The poop from this age group is said to be the purest of all. Err, no thanks – that’s going too far. We’d rather drink the cheapest wine in town than this… crap.