You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

For most of our readers, fruit and honey wines are likely to evoke memories of school parties at best and are hardly considered a serious alternative to wine made from grapes today. The Hessian national drink Äppelwoi, the French cider or the British cider as well as their relatives are also more likely to compete with beer in most cases.

The situation is perhaps somewhat different with sparkling wines. Many a bottle-fermented sparkling cider from dedicated producers is in no way inferior to even high-quality classic sparkling wines and has also made a name for itself in the circles of discerning connoisseurs.

When we received enquiries over the course of last year as to whether we would also be tasting fruit wines or mead, we were initially rather sceptical as to whether we should get involved with the subject. But the requests piled up and gradually some sample packages also arrived in the editorial office.

When we tasted the samples, we were pleasantly surprised again and again. Although there seems to be an unwritten law that still wines made from fruit must always be sweet, the spectrum ranges from simple, light and drinkable thirst quenchers to strong, far less uncomplicated examples or dessert wines that are obviously produced with the ambition to seriously compete with similar grape wines - which they partly succeed in doing.

A special role is played by honey wine, which by definition cannot be fruity in the classical sense, but which ideally achieves an aromatic delicacy not normally found in fruit wines. Our example from England also shows that honey wine can be raised to a level that one would otherwise only expect from first-class grape wines, not least through longer barrel ageing.

The following tasting notes only represent a very small section of the fruit and mead market and can therefore only give a rather superficial impression of the existing range. After all, we were presented with quite a broad spectrum of wines, from supermarket products to products from the upscale delicatessen segment that are considerably more sophisticated in price.

All wines were tasted in our tasting room in Erlangen. We thought about it for a while, but came to the conclusion that one can easily apply the same standard to these wines as we do to wines made from grapes, which is why we finally scored them according to the well-known 100-point system. The results are therefore comparable without reservation with those from the wine guide.

WERDER FEINKOST, Werder (www.werder-feinkost.de)

Werder has been making fruit wine for more than a century. The wines all have 9% alcohol by volume and are offered at prices between 2.50€ and 3.50€. The quality varies a little, but we have found some good, drinkable wines in the range presented to us.

Sea buckthorn

Not quite clear, slightly bready, cereal nose with delicate honey tones and somewhat dull yeasty notes. Slender and sweetish in the mouth, sea buckthorn notes, some tannin, some acidity but little life, again bready yeasty hints, then a bit fresher and clearer in the finish, also with citrus and apricot notes. Would be better without the dull nose. 78


Slightly bready, yeasty aroma of partly caramelised, ripe apple. Simple, apple-like fruit, again with bready-yeasty tones, fine acidity and some sweetness, somewhat rough and tannic on the palate, passable finish. 78

Sour Cherry

Relatively clear, bright sour cherry scent with delicate marmalade and herbal tones. Clear, sweetish fruit, somewhat jelly-like tasting, fine acidity, delicate herbal tones, not deep but clean and drinkable, decent finish. 80


Sugar beet and sweet strawberry jam on the slightly earthy nose. Fine, somewhat boiled down strawberry flavours in the mouth, again also a trace of sugar beet, moderate, fine acidity, relatively good finish. 81

Multi-fruit "Domino" (cherry, black and red currant)

Sweetish-bready yeasty tones on the nose, some honey and simple red fruit. Quite simple, sweet red fruit, suitable acidity, medicinal-vegetable tones, tight finish. 76


Quite clear, typical, slightly yeasty sloe nose. Clear and straightforward in the mouth, delicately juicy, integrated sweetness and fine acidity, delicately herbal tones, balanced, some persistence, fine tart tones, decent to good finish. Very successful. 83


Slightly herbaceous and beet-like, somewhat herbal nose of black berries, with air the blueberry tone becomes more pronounced. Sweet and sour in the mouth, more typical than in the nose, delicate vegetal tones, not too persistent but clean and good to drink, decent finish. 80


Restrained, somewhat undergrowthy and bready nose with restrained blackberry and raspberry tones. Clean, sweet juicy fruit, quite typical, with some bite and persistence, moderate tannins, decent finish. 81


Lively, fresh aroma of red and blackcurrants with delicate grapefruit tones. Very clear, straightforward, fine and sweet fruit with a slight acid bite, some persistence, well-drawn and animating, relatively juicy finish. 83

OBSTWEINKELLEREI BESTWINUS, Bestensee (www.bestwinus.de)

At bestvinus, fruit wines are produced that are supposed to stand out clearly from grandma's everyday wine by their appearance alone. But also their price and their high alcohol content make it clear that these are not palatable everyday drops. Whether alcohol levels of up to 15% are really necessary is, of course, another question, especially since the wines are still sweet, but in their best form, the fruit wines from Bestvinus already have a certain complexity and sustainability. Unfortunately, the tasting was not all joy: The corks used are so bad that we can only advise against the horizontal storage recommended on the back labels.

Desert Wind - Date 2007, 13,5%, 16,50€

Sweetly yeasty, slightly bready aroma with noticeable date notes with a hint of varnish. Lots of date in the mouth, delicately sweet and tart at the same time, a little medicinal and alcoholic on the palate, slightly rough, decent finish. 78

Autumn Fire - Rosehip Wine - Auslese 2006, 14%, 18€

Somewhat open, slightly reminiscent of rubber and caramel with rosehip tones. Quite sweet in the mouth, with fine acidity and delicate tones, some honey, oxidative hints, red berry tones, some persistence, decent to good finish. 82

Blue Night Music - Plum Wine Blend 2007, 14.5%, €16.50

Sweet yeasty nose with candy and caramel aromas, some honey and noticeable plum flavours. Fine plum aromas with woody spice and brandy-like tones on the palate, only a little sweetness, quite good persistence on the palate, delicately creamy, some tannin, decent to good finish. 84

Morning Glory - Cherry Wine Sherry 2007, 15%, 16,50€

Aroma of dried carrots and cherries with sweet caramel spice notes, some rubber, candied herbs and a little coffee. Very powerful in the mouth, sour pickled and dried cherries, candy, malt and caramel, some melting, noticeable sweetness and also some acid bite, cinnamon tones on the palate, good finish. 84

MANUFAKTUR JÖRG GEIGER, Schlat near Göppingen (http://www.manufaktur-joerg-geiger.de/)

Jörg Geiger produces fruit wine, cider, sparkling and semi-sparkling wines from apples and pears, partly non-alcoholic cocktails, distillates and a surprisingly good apple ice wine. Apart from the latter, we were only introduced to the sparkling wines, which we liked across the board - especially the bone-dry versions. Thanks to their low alcohol content, you can also treat yourself to a bottle of these for Sunday breakfast...

Sparkling wine from Schiller's Apple, Extra Brut, Traditional bottle fermentation, 8%, 12,90€

Very clear aroma of ripe apples with planty, caramel and floral traces. Also clear in the mouth, slender, completely dry fruit, again herbal tones, quite present acidity, medium-fine perlage, not deep but very carefully made, decent finish. According to the label, the best drinking temperature is 4^C. We vehemently disagree here. Only at temperatures above 10 degrees does the wine have a chance to play out its rather restrained, yet clear and typical aromas, especially on the palate. Served too cold, the wine seems rather narrow and acid. 83

Champagne Bratbirne, Selection Bernd Kreis, Extra Brut, Traditional bottle fermentation, 8.5%, 20€

Very clear aroma of grated pears and apples with floral nuances and caramel traces. Very clear also in the mouth, fine-juicy and typical, yet perfectly dry, delicate planty hints on the palate, fine acidity and harmonious, also quite fine mousseux, certain persistence on the palate, animating, good finish. Highly enjoyable. 85

Bratbirne Brut, traditional bottle fermentation, 8,5%, 16,90€

Aroma of mellow, partly grated pears and some apple with delicate caramel tones. Clear, lean, fine-juicy fruit in the mouth, medium-fine, harmonious mousseux, delicate herbal nuances in the background, not too deep but round, sparkling clean and very nice to drink, neat finish with yeasty traces. 83

Bratbirne dry, Traditional bottle fermentation, 8%, 15,90€

Somewhat caramel and delicately floral aroma of partly tarnished pears with delicate honeyed tones. Slender, sweetish fruit, clear and straightforward, fine acidity, very restrained mousseux, a hint of tannin on the palate, not too deep, decent finish with pear and apple tones as well as slightly vegetal notes. 82

Ice Apple, Selection Winter 2008, partially fermented cider, 4%, 23,90€

Aroma of candied, dried and baked apples with delicate plum tones and candied-herbal hints. Very clear in the mouth, straightforward, with harmonious sweetness and racy acidity, candied citrus fruits and apples on the palate, not too deep, but lively and gripping, animating, good, acidic-juicy finish. Should last for some time. 86

MET CULTURE, Wipperfürth (www.met-kultur.de)

Met-Kultur is a medieval shop on the internet that offers a large selection of honey wines, honey beer, honey distillates and honey vinegar as well as clothing, accessories and equipment for medieval fans. The qualities of the wines are quite varied and do not necessarily follow the price hierarchy, but the mead made from fir forest honey as well as the Moniack Mead are quite exciting specimens that we can also recommend to discerning wine drinkers.

Fruity and "lieblich", 10%, €5.95

Sweet caramel tones with slightly earthy and malty tones, some nougat and a hint of herbs. Very sweet in the mouth, honey, nougat and caramel, restrained acidity, block malt on the palate, not too deep but clean, decent to good finish. 82

Potion of the Gods, 11%, €6.90

Not completely clear, waxy and clearly reminiscent of incense with herbal tones and some caramel. Rather slender in the mouth, sweet, herbal-spicy, but also a bit cheesy, very fine acidity, passable finish. 78

Lavender honey with fine sweetness, 11,5%, 14,90€

Unclear nose with cheesy, bready and aldehydic notes, also some lavender, caramel and sweet spicy notes. Soft and sweet in the mouth, a bit perfumed, also bean wax tones and light caramel, bready hints, not quite clear, passable finish. 72

Olmo honey, 14%, €9.90

Quite intense honey scent with herbal spice as well as notes of damp leaves in the background. Sweet, slightly creamy and spicy in the mouth, especially medicinal herbs, melting on the palate, noticeable alcohol, some persistence, chocolaty nuances, decent to good, minty finish with hints of foliage. 82

Fir Forest Honey, 11%, €11.90

Bitterly woody honey scent with aromas of dark caramel, a hint of coffee and some smoke. Very clear in the mouth, fine-juicy and quite lively, rather dark honey and caramel notes, discreet, yet persistent spiciness, very fine acidity, delicately reminiscent of old sherry oxidative notes in the background, harmonious, good finish. 85

Moniack Mead. Highland Wineries, Moniack Castle, Inverness (Scotland), 24,90€

Underwood-spicy, slightly smoky aroma of morels, herbs and dried citrus fruits with oxidative nuances. In the mouth again slightly oxidative, quite vinous style, with wood barrel and underwood notes, delicate whisky spiciness and fine acidity, smoky and herbal notes, lots of malt, good persistence on the palate, strong body, some depth, very good finish. Amazing. 87

Related Magazine Articles

View All