Thursday, 5 April 2012

Van's Sweet Cherry Wine

It sounds awful to me. Give me beer anytime, but spare me anything sweet or anything with an umbrella in the glass.  'Sweet cherry wine' sounds undrinkable. However, Van Morrison mentions "sweet cherry wine" several times in reverential tones.   The Back Room and Cyprus Avenue are two songs that contains the lyric.  But Van wasn't the first to refer to "sweet cherry wine".  In 1931 country music pioneer and Van favourite Jimmie Rodgers sang the words, “I’m goin’ where the water drinks like cherry wine, cuz the Georgia water tastes like turpentine.”
In the 80 years since Rodgers recorded that line from his classic song T for Texas, legends including Buddy Guy, Tommy James and the Shondells, Prince, Steely Dan and the Foo Fighters, have all used “cherry wine” in song lyrics.  Artists use “cherry wine” in the most positive, poetic, romantic way, such as when Sheryl Crow sings, “I feel like cherry wine, like Valentines, like the spring is coming/ And everything is alright…” on her track Over You.

The most explicit of the term is in the song Sweet Cherry Wine by Tommy James and the Shondells from their 1969 album Cellophane Symphony. The song hit number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit number six on the Canadian charts. This psychedelic song was released at the height of psychedelia. It supposedly expresses Tommy James' Christian beliefs. "Sweet cherry wine" apparently was meant to be the Blood of Christ.

At they explain that "In the time between Rodgers’ plaintive yodelling and Crow’s power hooks, cherry wine has evolved, too, from being a Prohibition- and Depression-era “homebrew” to being crafted and sold by 50-some wineries across the USA."

So what is "cherry wine"?
Wine is legally defined as any beverage made from fermented fruit (including grapes) with an alcohol content of at least 8% and no more than 14%. At they assert that fruit wines (i.e. not including grapes) are increasingly popular. Cherry wine apparently tastes like cherries but also like “wine.”  Just like grape wine, cherry wine is made dry, semi-dry and sweet.

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