Quirky Missouri Wines
It’s a lunchtime delicacy served in elementary school cafeterias, frequently requested sans crust. Everyone likes it in a unique way. Some like peanut butter globbed on inch-thick, while others prefer minimal butter, maximum jelly. Some like it toasted, while some hate it when the peanut butter is too melted.
But none of these preferences matter anymore. This is a new era for peanut butter and jelly.
Now PB&J can be served in a wine glass.
Winemakers in Missouri are experimenting with creating new and unusual types of wine, one of these being a peanut butter and jelly “varietal.” Other quirky wines like Raspberry Chipotle and JalapeÃ±o Mead have also recently joined the Missouri wine list.
Norton and Vignoles are the most popular varietals in Missouri. However a few new wineries aren’t just sticking to the classics; they are experimenting to serve a niche market and appeal to a younger generation of experimental wine drinkers.
It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Time
Peanut Butter and Jelly Wine
Windy Wine Company
9478 SW State Route J
Windy Wine Company was founded in 2009, but co-owner and winemaker Kraig Keesaman said that he first started making PB&J wine about eight years ago. Part of Keesaman’s motivation for making novelty wines is to appeal to his generation of winedrinkers. Both Kraig and his wife, Becky, are 32 years old, making them some of the youngest winemakers in Missouri.
The PB&J wine is made from Concord grapes, similarly to everyone’s favorite jelly for peanut butter sandwiches. To give the wine a peanut flavor, winemaker and co-owner Kraig Keesaman said he dry roasts the peanuts using his “secret” methods. (Even peanut winemakers can be secretive.)
Next, he grinds the legumes -peanuts are not technically nuts- and lets them sit inside the tank of Concord wine before racking off the sediment and filtering the wine.
‘It’s much like people use oak alternatives,” he said.
Keesaman said PB&J is one of their more popular wines. Last year they sold about 1,000 gallons. This year they are on track to make about 2,250 gallons, he said.
‘Windy Wine’s PB& J is sweet, interesting and really delicious,” Missouri Wine and Grape Board Marketing Director Danene Beedle said. The wine won a Gold Medal in the 2014 Governor’s Cup Competition. Concord wines can have a reddish color, but Beedle described the PB&J wine as being more of a noble dark purple.
Due to its strong peanut butter and jelly flavor, you’ll want to pair the wine with more neutral foods and serve it slightly chilled. Beedle suggests pairing PB&J with crackers or a white dessert like angel food cake. Keesaman said he also likes to pair it with savory dishes such as Thai dishes that use a lot of peanut sauces.
The peanut aroma of the wine is similar to the distinct peanut smell experienced after unsealing the plastic baggy containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.
It’s time for Missourians to ditch the sandwich bags and bring out the wine glasses.
A JalapeÃ±o Popper in a Glass
7 C’s Winery
502 E. 560th Road
Walnut Grove, MO
After Burn is the name of 7 C’s Winery’s jalapeÃ±o mead that was inspired by an apple habanero wine a customer brought in for the owners to try.
The wine is like a jalapeÃ±o popper in a glass, said Jean Crevelt, co-owner of 7 C’s Winery.
After Burn is a white wine, made from their clover mead with jalapeÃ±os added and then removed during the process to create a heat on the finish. The honey keeps the wine sweet, while the jalapeÃ±os add the heat.
‘When we first started experimenting, our first thought was to leave a jalapeÃ±o in the bottle similar to the worm in the tequila idea,” she said. ‘But when we were doing our test batches, the longer the pepper stayed in the wine, the hotter the wine [became].”
The winemakers were also concerned the pepper might go bad in the bottle, so they decided to remove the pepper before bottling to keep a consistent flavor and heat level across all batches. But Crevelt said even when they were just making test bottles, people were chomping at the bit to buy them.
Crevelt recalled a couple from Louisiana who loved After Burn so much that the wife suggested they bring a bottle home for a party. But the husband wanted the wine all to himself. ‘They can smell the empty bottle, but I’m not sharing,” he reportedly said.
They ended up buying two bottles–one for the husband and one for the party.
The Crevelts created the jalapeÃ±o wine about three years ago, about two years after they opened in 2009.
‘We weren’t your typical farmers,” Jean Crevelt said. The couple had previously been in the computer and gaming industry in Las Vegas, where they raised their children–a much different culture from farming–for about 30 years.
So she decided to take classes online at The Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) through Missouri State University.
Jean Crevelt said that making quirky wines depends on the winery and their business strategy, but that she does think newer winemakers have more flexibility when it comes to trying unusual things.
‘If [a winery] is established and has a track record, sometimes they don’t want to rock the boat if people like what they are doing,” she said.
A “Berry” Hot Wine
Raspberry Chipotle Wine
Endless Summer Winery
11 Grosse Lane
In two years, Endless Summer Winery has sold 3,000 bottles of their Raspberry Chipotle Wine.
Gary Hoober, one of the owners of Endless Summer Winery, smokes jalapeÃ±os himself and adds them to the fruit wine for the smoky hot chipotle flavor.
‘We hit it off the first time we made it,” Hoober said. ‘I’m a chef, so I have experience with flavors and we already had the process down from making our jalapeÃ±o wine, so all we really had to do was add the smoked pepper to it. There really wasn’t much trial and error.”
Hoober is a 65-year-old former chef who has been making wine for about 20 years, but only recently opened Endless Summer Winery with his wife, Louis, and son Mark in September of 2011.
‘I wanted to get out of cooking and my son wanted to do a winery,” Hoober said. So they packed up and moved from Wentzville to Hermann to scope properties they could develop into a vineyard. Hoober said they are the first winery in Montgomery County.
‘I chose to go this route and tried to be unique,” Hoober said. He said the Raspberry Chipotle Wine is very popular and he thinks sales will continue to build because pepper wines are an emerging trend.
Hoobner reports the Raspberry Chipotle Wine is great for cooking and it also makes great vinaigrette. This wine also pairs well with ribs, chicken, kebabs and venison, Hoober said.
‘I do have some people that drink it,” he said. ‘Not everybody does.”
His business is growing, Hoober said, and they are definitely going to keep trying unique wines and change it up as they go along. They plan to do a maple pecan wine next year and a habanero wine will be out soon, as well.
Mollie Barnes is a freelance journalist and designer based out of Missouri. She has previously written for Vox Magazine and The Columbia Missourian. To see more of her work visit her online at holyguacamollie.com.