Pineapple wine is an alcoholic beverage made with fermented pineapple. It is called a wine largely because the process of making it mimics that used to make traditional grape wines. The beverage does not typically contain any grapes or grape products, however.
In most places, the term “wine” is used exclusively for fermented grape juice. A beverage that is labeled “pineapple wine” is usually a wine-style product made with pineapple in place of grapes. It is not wine in any true sense, but is consumed in much the same way, and is often presented in similar bottles. In some cases, it is even marketed by traditional vineyards alongside more traditional vintages.
Almost any fruit can be made into a wine-like beverage by compressing the juice and allowing it to ferment. Wine makers must first add yeasts to juices. The fruit’s natural sugars activate the yeasts, and over time — usually anywhere from a few weeks to a few months — the yeast's reaction causes the juice to become alcoholic. That alcohol is refined, pasteurized, and sold as fruit wine.
Pineapple winemakers must usually pay particular attention to the acidity levels of the liquid as it ferments. Most of the time, grape wines have a fairly balanced acidity level due to the natural tannins and other regulating agents in the fruit. The same is not usually true where pineapple is concerned.
Although pineapple flesh is sweet, its juice has a very high acid content. It often becomes bitter during fermentation. To counteract this, winemakers often add water and additional sugar. The art and science is in maintaining the alcohol content and original pineapple flavor in the process.
Pineapple wine is typically quite sweet, and is almost always designed to be served chilled. It is sometimes blended with other tropical fruit flavors, particularly mango and passion fruit. Most people drink pineapple wine by the glass in much the way that they would drink a white wine. It can also be used as the base of a pineapple cocktail.
Tropical pineapple plantations and dedicated fruit wineries are some of the biggest commercial sellers of pineapple wine. Bottles are often marketed to tourists and others anxious for a taste of the islands and warmer weather. These vendors typically make sales on the premises, but also usually ship world-wide, often online or through mail order catalogs.
The wine is also popular amongst home vintners. Aside from acid monitoring, little science is usually required to turn out a drinkable batch of pineapple wine. Unlike most grape wines, however, pineapple wine does not typically age well. It is usually designed to be immediately consumed. Depending on how it was made, the wine can grow rancid rather than more developed with the passage of years.