Tuesday, 22 June 2010

It's wine Jim, but not as we know it: Nigeria vs South Korea

Even back in the 1970s people might have laughed if you'd given them Australian wine. 

Today millions of bottles of Jacobs Creek have been sold around the world. 

Now what if you were offered a glass of wine from Jacobs Wines Limited, of Nigeria? 

Jacobs Wines is unrelated to Jacobs Creek. But they do sell over a million litres, some 1.4 million bottles, of wine every year. Pineapple wine. Made from pineapples.

You can choose from white and sparkling varieties. They even make red wines from pineapples.  Choose from Jacobs Tonic Wine, a powerful 15% red, a 'Burgundy-style' full-bodied red, a dry white, a sweet and strong dessert white at 14%, and a fizz called Jays. 

Unsurprisingly they also sell pineapple juice. Then there's the aptly named Sanctuary: communion wine with a 'noticeable pineapple bouquet'.

Just as pineapples are abundant in Nigeria, so rice being the national crop in South Korea it's no surprise they use it to make wine. Among rice wines the most popular style is probably the clear Cheongju - Korean Saké - and the big everyday drinking brand is Chung Ha. 

At circa 13% alcohol it only has the weight of an Australian Chardonnay but carries the flavour of a 'hot' spirit - like a whisky or brandy. Even though Saké is actually brewed, it's this distilled feel that exaggerates the alcohol and makes drinkers think, and even behave as if, it's stronger than it is.

Pineapple and rice wine each provide unfamiliar drinkers the opportunity to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. But you might have quite a trek to find a bottle.

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