I Got Really Drunk on Non-Grape Wines

Would you drink wine made from soursop, mangosteen, and wild berries? I did.
Philippines local fruit wine non-grape soursop guyabano mangosteen bugnay bignay berry review sommelier
Have you tried non-grape wines? Collage: VICE / Images: Romano Santos

In the list of top wine-producing countries, my archipelagic home is not. This is given, in part, by the simple fact that wine grapes don’t grow easily in the Philippines. But that hasn’t stopped Filipinos from making alcoholic drinks with fruits that do grow in the country.


Whether alcoholic drinks made from things that aren’t grapes are to be considered “wine” depends on how much you care. Some say the term “wine” is reserved only for alcoholic drinks made with fermented grapes. Others say alcoholic drinks made with things other than grapes (like fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs) are called “country wines.” There’s also the more specific term, “fruit wine,” which grape wines would technically fall under, but I don’t really want to get into that. 

I, my dear friends, just want to drink. And the three bottles of non-grape wine from the Philippines in front of me want to be drunk. Why would anyone drink non-grape wines at all? Because one can! Why am I drinking these three in particular? Because they were both interesting and available, which is more than I can say about some of you. 

As an added challenge, I wanted to see how many glasses I could drink to get properly drunk. Most of these wines had alcohol percentages way above average—14 percent instead of the usual 11.6 (wines range from 5.5 percent to 15 percent)—so I included a handy drunk meter, as well. 


Before I pour my first glass, a few disclaimers: This is not a comprehensive list. There are, of course, other Filipino wines out there. Also, I’m no sommelier. But I do have taste—I think. 

Soursop Wine

Philippines local wine non-grape soursop guyabano mangosteen bugnay bignay berry review sommelier

Soursop wine. Photo: Romano Santos

This wine is made of soursop, a fruit known as guyabano in the Philippines, and is the first of two wines I got online. They were among the top results on my sophisticated search for “Philippine wine” on an e-commerce app, so I added them to my cart after zero critical thinking. This soursop one is also the only “white” one of the three I tried, although it’s not exactly white in the same way that white wine is white. It’s more of a beer-ish yellow. It also smelled sharp, but drink it, I did.

The drink had the consistency of canned mango juice doused with hard liquor, then served before any sort of shaking or stirring. That’s also how it tasted. At first, it was sweet like a fruit juice, and unlike soursop which is, uh, sour. Then, the fruitiness abruptly gave way to the taste of hard liquor, though I can’t quite decide which kind. 

I did not have to drink much since it’s 14 percent alcohol. I hadn’t eaten in a few hours, so I was already feeling a bit tipsy, only almost at the end of my first glass. 

On to the next. 

Drunk meter: 3/10

Mangosteen Wine

Philippines local wine non-grape soursop guyabano mangosteen bugnay bignay berry review sommelier

Maybe this mangosteen wine will work in a sangria? Photo: Romano Santos

I love mangosteen, so I was excited for this one. It also looked more promising, with a rich, dark red not unlike a nice merlot, or whatever. 


I might not have the vocabulary to describe this wine, but it had the same fruit-juice-with-liquor taste as the soursop wine, except the fruit juice part tasted like cranberry instead of mango.

The wine was also 14 percent alcohol, so I was feeling rather good after drinking rather little. So good that I thought this mangosteen thing might work in some sort of sangria. 

Fun drinking game idea: Try to describe what you’re tasting. It will make you drink more and faster. 

Drunk meter: 6/10

Bugnay Wine

Philippines local wine non-grape soursop guyabano mangosteen bugnay bignay berry review sommelier

Third wine’s the charm. Photo: Romano Santos

Full disclosure: I got this bottle from a friend. A friend who has taught me, among other things, taste and honesty, so I’m not about to lie in his favor. I’m also almost drunk, and a drunk mind speaks a sober heart. 

Bugnay (aka bignay), is a wild berry common in the mountain provinces of the Philippines. Color-wise, it looked no different from a red wine. It even had legs, which dripped slowly down the glass. But I don’t really know what that means for non-grape wines. 

Voila, this one did not smell like a challenge, but a pruney invitation. It was a bit watery in consistency, but delicious and even bold in flavor. It had fruity notes, but not in a fruit juice kind of way. More in a wine kind of way. It also seemed more homogenous. Like the alcohol was inherent to the liquid as opposed to separate from it. That’s not something I’ve ever had to think about with wine, really, but feels important to say now. TL;DR: This was good. 

I’m not sure what percent alcohol it is, but I can tell you how drunk I am—quite.

And I’m pouring another glass. Cheers!

Drunk meter: 8/10

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