Since ancient times, the pomegranate has been considered a sacred symbol of fertility and prosperity. Moreover, for many centuries, peoples all over the world have used pomegranate as a remedy for various diseases. Some of these peoples have mastered the art of making a delicious drink known as “pomegranate wine.” Among them were the Armenians, who are now primarily associated with this wine. Subsequently, the wine turned out to be so distinctive and memorable that it was separated from other fruit wines and now exists and is perceived almost as a separate category of wine.
NEWS.am STYLE wine columnist Liana Aghajanian will introduce you to the technology and peculiarities of making pomegranate wine, as well as tell you which wines of this category are definitely worth trying.
First of all, it is worth noting that not all pomegranates are equally good for winemaking; the fruit must be juicy enough, as well as retain a high level of sugar and acidity. Some of the best and oldest plantings of pomegranate trees are around the Armenian town of Meghri in the south of Syunik Province. The name of this town can be translated as "honey," perhaps referring to the sweetness of the pomegranates that have been growing in this region for thousands of years. As with regular grape wine, the pomegranate fruit is crushed, pressed, and then fermented. The most important thing here is not to damage the skin of the pomegranate when crushing it. Otherwise, its bitterness will pass into the juice. Fermentation is usually stopped by cooling the tanks in order to preserve some of the natural sugar and to achieve that pleasant gentle sweetness for which pomegranate wine is famous. Fermentation is interrupted after about a month—as soon as the alcohol content reaches 6-7%.
There is an opinion that pomegranate wine is good for health. And for good reason, as the pomegranate itself is full of nutrients; it has a high content of vitamins C and K, folic acid, and potassium. In fact, scientists have proven that pomegranate wine contains three times more antioxidants than red wine or even green tea. These antioxidants have strong anti-aging effects, help improve skin health, and lower cholesterol. In other words, people have justification for calling pomegranate wine not only delicious, but also healthy.
And now to the practical part: how and with what to drink pomegranate wine?
Pomegranate wine should be drunk in accordance with the tradition of drinking semi-sweet and fortified wines: chilled, and it can be combined with almost any dishes, as it has enough completeness to resist the bright taste of spices, and at the same time its elegant sweetness and juicy freshness emphasize and do not overpower the taste of food.
Probably one of the most famous Armenian pomegranate wines, especially popular among tourists who hunt for fruit semi-sweet wines of Armenia. It is made from selected, ripe, and fragrant pomegranate fruits that grow in Aragatsotn Province. Its flavor is intense; some even note a piquant sharpness in the mouth after the first sip, and the aftertaste is pleasantly lingering with notes of chocolate.
Akoom Pomegranate Semi-Sweet
A wine from the Mijnaberd brand, which is famous for its premium distillates. This wine has not very deep color of pomegranate juice, bright aroma of fruits and cherries, and the taste has tartness of rind and sourness of grains. The aftertaste is sour with a light heavy sweetness. It will appeal to those who do not like sweetness, but prefer a slight bitterness and astringent sensation in the mouth.
Gevorkian "Meghri" Pomegranate Reserve
This is a bright and probably the most powerful Armenian pomegranate wine made by Gevorkian Winery winemakers using a unique technology. This wine is made by using ripe pomegranates that grow under the scorching sun in the gardens of Meghri town. During the production process the pomegranate juice is fermented at a temperature of 15-16 ºC. Then the wine is aged in Karabakh oak barrels for 6 months. The color of the wine is deep, reminiscent of brandy, the aroma may seem a bit harsh, but the taste has soft velvety tannins, with light acidity and bitterness of pomegranate peel.
By Liana Aghajanian
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