Discovering the world of wine is a never-ending adventure. Each time we open a bottle, we have the opportunity to discover new flavor pairings, surprising smells, and tannin and acidity levels that vary from year to year, area to region, and winery to winery.
We love wine and wine drinking because there is always something new and fascinating to discover, and there are new favorites just waiting to be tried. This wide range of unusual and exotic wines is a big part of why.
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.
Palm wine is a type of alcoholic beverage made from the sap of many types of palm trees, including palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms. It is widespread over many portions of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Micronesia and is known by a variety of names in various locales.
Dragon fruit wine
A type of fruit wine produced from dragon fruits is called dragon fruit wine. Tropical fruit endemic to Central and South America is the dragon fruit, commonly referred to as pitaya or pitahaya. The pulp and peel of dragon fruit are fermented to create wine. Up to two months are required for the fermenting process. The final wine has a fruity taste that is light and somewhat sweet. Dragon fruit wine may be savored on its own or combined with other beverages to make cocktails. It is also a well-liked option for producing dessert wines.
Seaweed wine is a type of wine that combines the flavor of fresh seaweed (Caulerpa sp.) extracts with wine. It is taken from the sea and is locally called “lato” in the Philippines. It contains traces of ocean minerals and a potent antioxidant.
Seaweed has been dubbed the following superfood because of its potential health advantages. The fermented wine will support a healthy lifestyle for wine drinkers by using compounds from seaweed.
Baby Mice Wine
Baby mice wine is a traditional Chinese “health tonic” that, according to claims, tastes like raw gasoline.
Little mice are taken from their adoring moms’ embraces and placed (while still alive) into a bottle of rice wine. They’re allowed to ferment as their parents wring their tiny mouse paws in sorrow, mournful tears falling from the tips of their whiskers.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, that’s not always a negative thing. Army Worm Wine is exactly what it sounds like: worm wine.
This Army Worm is really a forest tent caterpillar, or Malacosoma disstria, which gets its name from the fact that it is sometimes found hanging out in webs or kinds styled like army tents. These “worms” spin pad-like structures on trunks and branches, as well as the rare tent, where they molt. Their defoliation will not destroy host trees, but the larvae will inflict substantial harm to adjacent plants while they eat. Anyway, they reportedly manufacture wine — or, more accurately, a type of liquor that Minnesotan Ray Reigstad refers to as wine.
Ginger wine is a fortified wine created from a fermented combination of ginger, raisins, sugar, and yeast that is frequently fortified by the addition of brandy.
Ginger wine emerged in England around 1740, with the establishment of The Finsbury Distilling Company in the City of London.
Insam-Ju, commonly known as ginseng liquor or ginseng wine, is a ginseng-based alcoholic beverage. Liquor, like ginseng, is a specialty of both North and South Korea.
The booze can be served cold or hot.
Cacao wine entices diners with its iridescent amber color, and delicious sweetness softly circling on the tip of the tongue. The aroma of cacao spreads in the mouth, faintly at the tip of the nose, and finishes with a little acidity still remaining on the lips.
A bottle of fine cacao requires around 20 kg of cacao and the procedure is difficult. Cacao pods must be picked when they are mature and have a reasonable sweetness. The cacao meat is then crushed, and the water is fermented. The natural fermentation process might take up to six months.
Cacao wine, with a concentration of 12.5%, is an excellent drink for parties because it stimulates hunger and is healthy for the digestive system.
Scorpion wine is a type of alcoholic beverage made by soaking scorpions in rice wine or grain alcohol. According to historical sources, the beverage was initially drunk in China during the Western Zhou dynasty and was thought to revitalize a person through Traditional Chinese medicine.
In Taiwan, a wine created from centipede venom is being heralded as a new miracle medicine. Taiwanese people think that drinking wine is the quickest method to heal chronic diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, digestive problems, and skin illness.
These centipedes will discharge fluids after being bathed in Chinese rice wine. For at least two months, the centipedes are kept in rice wine.
Bamboo wine may be prepared using either bamboo shoot juice or bamboo leaves. Bamboo wine is a fermentation product created from the shoot juice of Oxytenanthera abyssinica. Bamboo wine is often an alcoholic extract or a result of the fermented blend of leaf extract and starchy food material generated from bamboo leaves.
Betel leaf wine
Betel leaf wine is an alcoholic beverage prepared from the leaves of the betel plant. Betel is a tropical evergreen shrub native to South Asia. The plant’s leaves are used to manufacture a range of culinary and beverage items, including betel leaf wine. Betel leaf wine is prepared by fermenting betel plant leaves in water. During the fermentation process, the leaves break down and release their natural sugars, which takes many weeks. The resultant wine is a greenish-yellow, sweet, somewhat alcoholic beverage. Betel leaf wine can be consumed on its own or as an ingredient in cocktails.
In Germany, a popular mixed wine cocktail made with sugar and spices derived from brandy (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice, and wine) (white or red wine). After that, the drink is cooked and eggs are added while stirring. It is also suitable for serving cold. In certain growing regions, egg wine is historically consumed as a “fortifying wine” on New Year’s Day or at Easter. Eggs are also used in Marsala and Zabaglione. A comprehensive list is also available under exceptional wines.
South Asian civilizations manufacture mushroom wine, which appears to have no negative effects, however, this beverage is unique in the Western wine market. Intrepid travelers have returned amazed that a wine created from mushrooms may taste so like a traditional grape wine, particularly a chardonnay.
Garlic Wine strengthens the immune system, cleanses the blood, has powerful anti-inflammatory qualities, removes extra body salts, aids in the prevention of heart disease by increasing heart function, lowers cholesterol, and fights off different infections.
Guavas is a tropical fruit that is high in fiber and low in calories. They’re also quite tasty. But who would have guessed that these delectable fruits might be used to produce wine? Guava wine is gaining popularity because of its health benefits such as boosting the immune system and regulating blood pressure. Guava is also rich in antioxidants, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and fights cancer cell growth.
There are many unexpected twists and turns in the world of undiscovered unusual and exotic wines. There is a bottle or case of wine somewhere that has yet to be discovered. There is a winemaker whose lineage carries prestige, that only a select few may try. This is what distinguishes wine and makes it popular. It is a volatile beverage shrouded in secrecy and infamy. It is a bit of an anomaly in modern times that one can casually stroll down liquor store aisles – a remarkable freedom in and of itself. Looking into the future and seeing a selection of wines on demand, right at your fingertips, would be a rarity for people from the past. Every wine, whether prestigious or not, would captivate them.