February 07 • pomegranate wine
The Ancient Power of the Pomegranate
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey. (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)
It’s interesting that pomegranates are mentioned in the bible here, in the same breath as “of vines”, yet pomegranate wine has always taken a back seat to traditional wine made from grapes. I didn’t know pomegranates held the monikers of “divine” and “the most mentioned fruit” in theological books, which shouldn’t be too surprising with their abundance in middle eastern countries where wine is produced – Israel, Armenia, Georgia, Iran.
Who knows if pomegranate wine ever made an appearance during The Last Supper, or if the apple ‘bombshell’ the serpent dropped on Eve in the Garden of Eden was really a pomegranate… which, funnily enough, the French call grenades(!) What we do know is that there’s ancient wisdom embedded in those messy, bittersweet rubies that the American market is finally coming around to.
My association with pomegranates and beverage options started and stopped at grenadine, that devilish and delicious bar syrup that always made its way into my Shirley Temples… and to the many accompanying jokes surrounding a grown man ordering a Shirley Temple. Now, I’d love to tell you that my choice of cocktail was born out of knowing that authentic grenadine was made from pomegranate concentrate, and then rhyme off the many health benefits of “ellagic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and flavones”, but I’d be lying. It was more about feeding a life-long sugar addiction, knowing full well that the “fruit component” of that sticky red elixir of life had long been replaced by the fructose factory.
But back to the ancient wisdom of the desert, where those tiny umbrellas found on your Pink Lady or Tequila Sunrise really won’t do you any good. Back to the ancient books, where lo and behold, pomegranates have been eaten throughout history for their health and medicinal benefits! This is where our scientists kindly step in with their placards that read “more than 100 phytochemicals”, “vitamins A, C, and E”, and “three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea.” With anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-tumor properties, the pomegranate is finally being awknowledged for being one of the healthiest fruits on earth. So, it’s not that mommy needs her alone time with a glass of wine, away from the kids — mommy’s just getting her vitamins.
So, what is that 4 o’clock experience like for the matron of the house? For the most part, pomegranate wines are dry and acidic, with less alcohol content than grape wine. Like it’s grape counterpart, they vary in color, taste and quality. Made sweeter by adding sugar (or mixing grape wine), pure pomegranate wines can be 100 to 200 percent more expensive than similar grape wine varieties. You can find it in pure, semi-sweet, fruity, or sparkling in the US market (California) or imported wines from Armenia or Israel.
Is the pomegranate simple, or complicated? Maybe it depends on the person sampling it. Its flavor can be simple, direct, tart. Or loaded with as many stories as its history and folklore. In your glass, they’ve saved you from the work and messiness of breaking one open and getting at its many seeds. Getting at what it really has to offer, what it has always had to offer. Quiet and unassuming, like a king in the desert, the round red fruit with “the crown on its head”. Or a queen. Let’s not forget about mom. And maybe close the door behind us.
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