Fruity Wine Fail: Durian
Consider the durian. This is a fruit that smells, depending on whom you talk to, like rotting onions, roadkill, old cat box (one of our food editors suggested that one), concentrated manure, piles of unwashed gym socks, you name it. It looks like a king-size hedgehog with no legs, weighs up to nine pounds or so, and is said to occasionally kill people by falling on them from high up in the trees where it grows. Some people love it—the fruit inside is quite sweet and tasty, they’ll tell you—but then some people love fermented shark (really: Iceland). Regardless, the durian isn’t something that one naturally associates with the phrase, “Hey—let’s make this thing into wine!”
However, that is apparently what a clever gang of scientists in Singapore have done. The end result came in at about 6 percent alcohol, and lacks the durian’s debilitating smell. Now, why someone would want to do this remains unclear to me, but hey, the quest for knowledge is eternal. Nevertheless, I do think that if you’re dead set on bringing together fruit and wine, there are a number of easier and better ways to go about it, the best of them being sangria.
Sangria sometimes gets a bad rap as being cheap, fruity hooch, good for getting you cheerfully buzzed and little else, but good sangria is delicious, and also one of the best summer drinks for a crowd. Its history is vague—grapes have been cultivated in Spain for a couple of thousand years, and citrus fruit for half that, or so—but it seems pretty clear that no one in the US knew about it till it was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. The traditional recipe includes red or white wine, citrus juice (usually orange), sparkling water and sliced fruit, plus a little brandy and a little sugar. But thanks to the inventiveness of mixologists and chefs these days, there are also endless variations—red sangrias, white sangrias, sake-infused sangrias, mango sangrias, watermelon sangrias, you name it. Here, to spur the imagination and potentially resolve your next cookout beverage dilemma, are 15 of F&W’s favorites.