Old & Rare Tonic Wine & Fruit Wine
Flavoured wines are nothing new, with the first documented evidence of mead dating from before 1000BC. They fall into two categories: those which are fermented from fruit other than grapes (fruit wines) and tonic wines, made by adding herbs and spices to fortified wines.
Also called, country wines, these are made from fermented fruits, and are produced in a variety of flavours, from mead (honey-based) to cherry, damson and ginger. As with tonic wines, some of these have monastic links – such as the holy island of Lindisfarne, off the coast of north-east England, which is home to many of the wines in this section. Due to low natural sugar in the fruits used for production, sugar is often added to make the finished drink.
Tonic wines were originally marketed as being medicinal, hence the name. Two of the most popular brands were both first created in the late 19th century: Buckfast and Wincarnis. The former is made by the monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon and is a red-wine-based aperitif with added caffeine and vanillin. The latter combines wine and herbs and spices, some of which are rich in Vitamin B, proven to have beneficial effects on circulation and blood pressure.