“We thought if France, Italy or Australia had made a mark for themselves as leaders in the wine industry, essentially because of their abundant grape produce, why don’t we try out our skills with the huge quantities of mango grown in this region?” said Neelima Garg, who led the research team. “Just as each of the mango varieties taste different, each of the wines too varies in taste as well as in flavour,” added Garg, who has been working on the project for the past two years.
The main problem researchers in Lucknow faced was treating the viscous mango pulp to make it thin enough to pass as wine. “The process of fermentation is not very tough, as mango contains huge quantities of sugar, which is the basic source of alcohol, but balancing the viscosity is what needs to be done very carefully,” she said.
The alcohol content in the slightly yellow, sweet drink is 8-9 per cent, which is lower than the alcohol content of a typical wine made from grapes, that generally ranges from 10-15 per cent. Researchers in Lucknow and elsewhere are hoping that India’s ‘wine adventure’ could include more exotic wines made from mangoes, blackberries or even apples.
Manish Kasture, for example, who is part of a team of scientists based at Dapoli University in Maharashtra, is applying for patents on wine made from cashew apples and blackberries.
He also has a mango wine in the pipeline, but “it needs some fine-tuning,” he explained, adding, “Grape wine is available all over the world, but these wines are healthier. They’ve antioxidants and vitamins.” However, Delhi Wine Club president Subhash Arora sniffed at the proposed new brew. “It is certainly feasible to make wine from mangoes. The issue is the quality, flavour, spoilage and marketing.
This will be a niche market at best... Himachal Pradesh already makes fruit wines and barring apple wine, others are barely drinkable - if at all.”
More on fruit-based wines
Desi fruit wines: Himachal Pradesh has been producing fruit-based wines for several years now, with commercial success. Established wineries operating from Solan, Mandi, Palampur and Shimla have a portfolio that includes wines from from apple, plum, pear, peach, apricot, kiwi and strawberry.
Around the world: Elsewhere in the world, fruits that are commonly used to make wine include elderberries, raspberry, litchi,
cranberry, cloudberry, apricot, watermelon, pomegranate, loquat and huckleberry. Pineapple wine is popular in Hawaii and Japan, while cherry wine, called Kijafa, is popular in Finland.