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Yes, tomato wine is a thing

Would you try it?

Tomatoes on vine in a bowl
Rodion Kutsaev / Unsplash

It should go without saying that wine is most often made with grapes. We love them all, from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon to Malbec. There are countless delicious grape varietals that produce beautiful wines, and we are big fans of the wine grape. But while the grape is the most commonly used fruit in wine production, it isn’t unheard of for a particularly scrappy vintner or winemaker to experiment with other fruits and ingredients. Moira Rose Fruit Wine, anyone?

Of course, these bottles are nowhere near as popular or well-known as grape wine varieties, but there are some on the rise that have piqued our interest. While some varieties sound simply atrocious, like jalapeno or mushroom wine, there are some that sound like they could actually be pretty delicious. Tomato wine, for example, has us especially intrigued. If you’re anything like us, the very first thought of tomato wine immediately invoked a craving for a good Bloody Maria. Spicy and peppery with ripe, sweet notes of juicy tomato, tenderly and expertly nursing that stubborn hangover. The truth is, we were completely off base, and tomato wine isn’t like this spicy cocktail at all. So, what is tomato wine?

What does it look like?

White wine in glass swirling
Big Dodzy / Unsplash

No matter the fruit you happen to be using, the wine-making process remains generally the same. The fruit is crushed, pressed, fermented, and bottled. Grape wine derives its color (or lack thereof) from levels of tannins in the skins of the grapes from which it is made. Tomato skins are a little bit different in that they are not tannic and, therefore, don’t impart much color to their wine. Because of this, tomato wine is less pigmented than one might imagine. Its color is similar to a golden-hued white wine like Chardonnay or Viognier.

What does it taste like?

Flight of white wines
henry fournier / Unsplash

Tomato wine is surprisingly comparable to more common white grape wine varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, with zesty, fruity, lightly floral notes. Fruit-forward with hints of spice, the notes and flavors of tomato wine are borderline herbaceous, flirting with zesty citrus and sultry notes of orange blossom. In other words, nothing at all like the cocktail that first came to mind. We’ll have to save the Bloody Maria for another day, it would seem.

While tomato wine isn’t yet available at too many grocers or wine stores, tracking down a bottle shouldn’t be too difficult. We would suggest connecting with a tomato farmer at your local farmer’s market or searching online for a bottle. While not especially easy to find, there do seem to be some out there. Of course, with the hundreds of recipes available online, you could always pick up a new hobby and make your own at home.

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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