At the recent Eastern Winery Exposition, I ran into the three partners of Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith, NH, which was rated by Wine & Spirits as the top craft beverage producer in the state last year.

Bob Manley, the energetic marketing manager, gave me a bottle of their new label, strawberry rhubarb ( all local fruit). I had high expectations based on their impressive track record, but my expectations were exceeded.

Strawberry is a difficult fruit to make into a stable wine (without adding artificial/synthetic flavorings), because it is famous for oxidizing easily, giving you orange or even yellow/brownish color, and faded aromas and flavors. How do you make the ideal strawberry wine, where the bright ruby color is captured and retained, as well as the fresh tantilizing aromas of the naked fruit?

I have come to believe that sometimes, the best wine of (x grape or fruit) is a blend, instead of 100%. In the case of strawberry wine, you need another fruit (or vegetable, in this case) to skew the pH down, raise the acidity, and thereby stabilize the juice so that it stays bright and fresh on the nose and the palate, and can last longer in the bottle.

This is a brilliant blend of sexy, fresh juicy strawberry with the racy acidity of a Finger Lakes riesling, thanks to the rhubarb. Even though it’s just off-dry, it drinks clean and fresh, and can pair well with goat cheese or the things you’d have with dry rose. Vibrant, fresh and zesty; how does strawberry wine get better than this? This could be called the “Glen Miller” of fruit wine, if you get my drift….