As the name suggests, plum wine is traditionally made from Japanese Ume plums fermented in sugar and yeast.
Traditionally, this Japanese liquor was often referred to as Umeshu in Asian culture. It used to be taken for its medicinal properties like relieving a sore throat, soothing aching muscles, and relieving colds among many other types of illnesses. Despite initial regulation, at a later date the rules were relaxed to allow people to produce their own homemade Umeshu and since then it has become a famous wine bolstering shelves with its sweet aroma, low alcoholic content, and sour plum flavors.
If you are seeking a balanced drink, then plum wine could be your best choice. As previously noted, it has low alcoholic content- about 12% – which can make it easier to drink than those with a higher alcoholic content. The main problem with wines produced from other fruit than grapes are that they contain imbalanced proportions of tannins, alcohol, and acidity levels. You will find them advertising themselves as sweet balanced drinks, but instead of getting a balanced and low alcohol taste when you consume, you get the blistering taste of moonshine. Plum wine, in contrast, defies this and is typically a relatively balanced liquor.
It has rich, sweet, and aromatic taste and is suitably served as an aperitif. This taste is acquired from its fruit Ume, which is very tart in flavor, especially in the types traditionally grown in Japan. Ume thrives in Asian countries including China and Japan, and they are loved for their pinkish blossom during late winter and early springs.
The result is a premium wine, with aromatic plum flavor, traditionally better served on the rocks or chilled more so than other white or rose counterparts.
Health benefits of plum wine
If consumed in moderation, plum wine can confer specific health benefits. Why? Because it is rich in antioxidants and minerals. A study carried out in 2007 on beneficial components of alcoholic fruit wines showed that plum wine had moderate total antioxidant capacity alongside other fruit wines such as those made from raspberries and cherries. However, it ranked below wines made from red sweet grapes and blueberries.
Nevertheless, the analysis of wines discovered that plum wine had essential mineral components vital for health including manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. To add icing on the cake, the wine was found to have significantly lesser histamines (a compound associated with inducing headaches and worsening hangovers) compared to other red wines.
There are over a hundred selections of Japanese plum wines you can enjoy when you visit Shibuya or Tokyo. Having a variety of choices means you can enjoy what your heart desires – but there are some specific Japanese plum wines we’d recommend trying if you have the chance.
Choya Ume Blanc
A delightful tasting wine with a gentle finish and a touch of acidity manufactured using semi-ripe and high-quality green plums. It is often served as dessert when chilled, similar to a Muscat or other sweet dessert wine.
I don’t think there is a sweet fruit wine in the world like Choya Umeshu. What makes it a coveted brand is it entices everyone (including teetotalers, for no alcohol varieties) because of its faint aroma, sweet flavors, and its excellent balance of acidity, alcohol level, and tannins. It is also a great component of cocktails, and can be used in a similar way to many dessert wines in more interesting concoctions.
Choya Kokuto Umeshu
Choya Kokuto Umeshu is a very strong and distinct dessert wine, defined by its pungent aroma. The sickly sweet flavors present are derived from Kokuto – the brown sugar content. It serves as a good cocktail base and an excellent alternative to rum used in cake baking, especially for traditional Asian style desserts.
Takara Kinsen Plum
This white wine Umeshu poses of fruity plum flavors and an overall touch of summer finish. It is an epitome of all time Japanese wine with 12% alcohol content which can be served on the rocks or as it is. Just add ice, soda, fruit juice, and lemon; Voila! Have a good time; your summer cocktail is ready!
7 Great Facts about Umeshu
The first drink that comes to mind when someone mentions Japan is Sake, at least in the past. Nowadays, Umeshu is Japan’s most popular drink. It’s not like Sake is out of the picture, but Umeshu has overtaken Sake as the most popular drink among the locals.
#7 Umeshu consists of two words
Many people don’t realize that Umeshu is made from two words. “Ume” stands for fruit, while “Shu” is a Japanese word for liquor. In most cases, Umeshu is translated as plum wine. But that is not the most proper translation as Ume is a particular fruit tree known as Prunus Mume. It is related to both plum and apricot, but it is not the same. Therefore, the best translation is Ume liquor.
#6 Umeshu is more than just a beverage
Umeshu is made as a beverage. But once you are done drinking, you can also eat the plum. Plum’s inherited sourness and the sugar combine into a tasty delicatessen. One bite and all that will burst into your mouth.
#5 There is no expiration date on Umeshu
Thanks to the high alcohol levels, the plum will never rot. Therefore, you cannot put an expiration on an Umeshu bottle or jar. The older the Umeshu, the better it will taste. Pretty much the same analogy as with vintage wines.
#4 Umeshu is good for your health
Drinking moderate amounts of wine can bring a ton of health benefits. That’s also the case with Umeshu. Umeshu is known to provide relief from exhaustion and constipation. It contains plenty of calcium and minerals. Umeshu prevents diarrhea and is very stimulative for your appetite. So you get a bit tipsy and healthier, all in one.
#3 Markets sell two types of Umeshu
Brands that use real plum in the process of making Umeshu will add “Honkaku Umeshu” on their label. Then some don’t use real plum in the making. Instead, they use additives and perfumes to capture the same taste and smell. The only real issue here is if you can’t read or understand Japanese.
#2 Ume plums can’t be eaten raw
Ume plums cannot be eaten raw because they contain a tiny amount of poison. Plus, they are incredibly sour. So people either dry them up, make them into jam, soak them in vinegar, or soak them into liquor, which is Umeshu. When mixed with liquor, there is a zero chance of poisoning.
#1 Anyone can make their Umeshu at home
Not only that, you can make your Umeshu at your home, but you can also offer it to your restaurant or bar. However, there are certain limits to how much of Umeshu you can offer and sell at your restaurant or bar. But if it just for you and your purposes only, then you can make as much as you like.
Plum wine blends a sweet and sour taste of plum flavors with (traditionally) a standard of 12% alcohol content. Its sweet taste arouses one’s olfactory sensors, and boy of boy is it mouthwatering. With its ample varieties such as Choya, Takara, and many others, there is a whole world of plum wine out there for exploring.