Among all the fruit wines out there, plum wine is probably the most misunderstood one. Whether it is an amateur drinker or a wine connoisseur, they are often not quite sure what to expect from a drink like Japanese plum wine.
It comes with the bite and heartiness of regular wines, the fruity zest of the plum, and offers more than ways of consumption.
With the festive season almost here, if you have dinner parties to host or brunches to plan, you are probably hoping to include a unique choice of poison such as Takara plum wine.
Before that, find out all about this Japanese plum wine, its history, how it tastes like, and what it tastes good within this article.
What Is Takara Plum Wine?
Takara Plum Wine, more popularly known as Umeshu, is a type of Japanese liqueur made by steeping plums in a concoction of spirit and sugar.
The plums used for this drink are special Japanese Ume Plums that are extensively used for making pickles, sauces, and gourmet dishes in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and other East and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Takara Japanese Plum Wine serves as a perfect aperitif to kickstart your brunch or luncheon spread. An aperitif, in case you didn’t know, is an alcoholic drink which is had before a meal to stimulate appetite – technically a liquid version of an appetizer.
Characteristics Of Flavor And Taste
Japanese Ume plums have a distinct combination flavor of tartness and sweetness together, which inevitably seems into Takara plum wine.
On top of the sweet and sour flavor, Japanese plum wine has a rich and aromatic texture, which is often associated with anything made from plum.
This dry and zingy punch of the drink is what makes it such a good aperitif. It leaves a lingering aftertaste in your palate, which further adds to the appetizing factor.
How is Japanese Plum Wine Made?
Japanese people have been making Takara plum wine for ages now, following a simple and traditional method.
The Ume plums are plucked when still green and unripe and steeped in alcohol for at least three months. The spirit traditionally used for the fermentation is Japanese Shochu.
Shochu is 45% white alcohol and is made by distilling rice, barley, buckwheat, potato, or brown sugar. If you are making Japanese Plum Wine at home, vodka works the best for steeping.
Remember to take out the stones and seeds of the fruits before steeping them in the mixture of sugar and alcohol.
How To Find The Right Takara Plum Wine
Before going out for Umeshu shopping, first, you must know the things to look for. There are several factors which need to be considered before you make a decision.
Classic Flavors Vs. Experimental
Takara plum wine traditionally has a very classic Ume flavor. While many breweries stick to the vintage flavor, some others go down the road of the experiment.
You will find Umeshu out in the market with a twist in the flavor. One of the most common is to infuse Japanese plum wine with Shiso leaves.
Shiso leaves pack a punch of refreshing flavors, resembling those of mint, basil, cinnamon, and citrus.
Some companies use honey for the steeping process instead of sugar, which gives it a slightly different taste and a more organic origin.
The Strength And Alcohol Content
Takara Plum Wine typically has an alcohol content of around 10-15%. But it obviously differs from one brand to another.
It is important to keep in mind that Umeshu is served as a starter drink or aperitif. It is not meant to be consumed with the objective of, let’s just say, getting drunk.
But some companies keep the strength at as low as 5%, while some others take it to 20%. See the label and make sure how strong your Japanese Plum Wine is, and serve or drink accordingly.
Fruit In The Drink – Honkaku Umeshu
Many brands use fruit-flavored additives to infuse the plum flavor instead of seeping and fermenting real plums. They taste good as well.
However, if you want Takara made from real fruits, keep an eye out for bottles that actually have fruits inside them.
You should be able to see from outside if there are Ume plums floating inside. If you cannot, look for the phrase ‘Honkaku Umeshu’ on the label. This phrase means your Umeshu has fruits in it and is made from 100% real fruits.
How To Pair It With Food Items
Takara Plum Wine is quintessentially an aperitif, served before lunch or dinner to stimulate hunger.
If you are hosting a party, you can mix Umeshu up with club soda or curacao, add some lime, salt, and mint, and turn it into a mojito or margarita cocktail.
Japanese plum wine is best served with Asian style food. Sushi goes perfectly with Takara. Go for spicier and heavier flavors like crab and prawns. They are quite compatible with the flavor of Umeshu.
Plum wine itself is used in several Japanese, Chinese, and Korean meals. If you are serving a spread meal, go for heavier flavors once again.
Sauces like Szechuan, Manchurian, Hot Garlic, etc., make a delightful pair with a glass of chilled Umeshu. These umami flavors help bring out an even better taste from the drink.
If you are going for a more continental twist, grilled chicken or fish infused with thyme, rosemary, mushrooms, etc., make a hearty meal.
Because it has a distinct flavor of its own, it is best served with soda, tonic water, on the rocks, or with cold water. In winter, it can be taken with hot water as well, to warm up the throat and body.
It is one of those drinks which can be had anywhere and anytime.
Plum wine Choya products are one of the best in the market. Choya Umeshu is a Japanese brewery based out of Osaka, Japan, which extended their usual distillery range in 1959 and started making Ume plum wines.
It comes with a beautiful, rich, elixir-like texture, which turns the mood of any brunch gathering or dinner party around.