When it comes to adult beverages, rum reigns supreme in the Caribbean. But don’t sleep on the assortment of wines.
The industry is still relatively nascent due in large part to the challenges of growing grapes in a climate composed of both a dry and rainy season. With grapes needing consistently dry, sunny conditions with just the right amount of coolness to thrive, a Caribbean vineyard is definitely a rarity.
However, some countries have managed to pull off the seemingly impossible. Cuba houses Bodegas del Caribe, the Caribbean’s oldest wine-making operation, which launched at the turn of the century, and the Dominican Republic’s Ocoa Bay project has reaped positive reviews. Curaçao and St. John, in the US Virgin Islands, have followed suit with their own offerings.
Others have decided to use their own local produce to create a few unique blends. Here are some of the Caribbean’s best one-of-a-kind fruit wine producers.
From Jamaica’s number-one rum producer J. Wray & Nephew comes Red Label Wine. This is Jamaica’s biggest selling wine, manufactured and bottled on their shores. It is recommended as an apéritif and can be served straight, chilled, or on the rocks. With its hint of cinnamon flavor, it makes a great addition to Christmas cakes and has been a staple in Jamaican households since the 70s.
The jamoon (jamun) fruit originated in South East Asia and India but can be found in Guyana. The Guyanese are partial to this wine which is said to cleanse the blood. It is considered a perfect complement to meatier dishes like burgers but versatile enough to pair well with pasta.
Pandama also has an assortment of wines made from every tropical fruit imaginable including wild berry, the Christmas classic sorrel, carambola also commonly known as starfruit or five fingers, pineapple, mango, aubergine, soursop, and fermented hot peppers.
Shalana’s Natural Wines has a drink for every occasion with over 25 flavors of wine in their deep catalog. What started out as a few drinks made with jamun, then golden apples— soon branched out into a breadfruit creation, fat porks, gooseberry, dunks, aloe, soursop, shaddock, and of course Bajan cherry.
Did we convince you to try a Caribbean fruit wine soon?