January 23, 2008

St. James Winery Strawberry Wine, about $9


There were more than 4,000 wines being judged in Cloverdale last week for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and a lot of them were very good.

I know, as I judged more than 200 of them. But the wine that created the most buzz was made from strawberries. "Pure essence of strawberry!" one person said, "It isn't cloying at all." Another enthused, "Tasted like summer in a glass."

Making wines from fruits other than grapes is hard—the results tend to taste more like liquid jam than good juice. When I finally got a taste, it was clear they weren't fooling. "I could bathe in this," a normally staid, button-down judge confided to me. I'd join him, but then there wouldn't be enough to pour over vanilla ice cream, or to sip on a dark, cold night when summer seems too far away.

Call up St. James Winery in Missouri: Even with shipping costs, it seems like a cheap winter escape.

St. James, Mo., 800-280-9463; stjameswinery.com.

This review first appeared in the Denver Post.

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