Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener vintner's jalapeno wine wows judges at Ontario wine competition

An amateur winemaker in Kitchener has wowed judges at an Ontario wine competition after debuting a vino made with jalapenos.

'It’s actually quite smooth and fairly mellow,' Kibble says of his wine

Jim Kibble is an amateur winemaker from Kitchener. His jalapeno wine earned him a gold at the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario competition. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

An amateur winemaker in Kitchener has wowed judges at an Ontario wine competition after debuting a vino made with jalapenos.

Jim Kibble, who is a member of the amateur wine-making club The Corkscrew Society, said the wine was a product of his "mad scientist year" when he tried to make wine from tomatoes, beets and pumpkin.

"They were all really bad," said Kibble.

But the wine he made with jalapenos was different.

"This one ... by luck or good management, it seems to have hit the mark," Kibble said.

His straw-coloured jalapeno wine won gold at the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario competition last month. The wine earned 93 points out of 100. Anything 90 or over earns the winemaker a gold.

The wine was entered in the Country Table category, which means his wine had to be made of at least 95 per cent non-grape ingredients and is a dry to medium-dry wine.

The wine is now eligible for the Amateur Winemakers of Canada competition being held in August in Kentville, N.S.

Jim Kibble holds his jalapeno wine during a visit to the CBC Kitchener-Waterloo studio. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

'Quite smooth and fairly mellow'

Kibble said his wine has an apple base, then he added raisins and other ingredients. He used jalapenos because last year, they grew the hot peppers and had an abundance of them.

But while the peppers have a reputation for being a bit spicy, Kibble said his wine is not.

"Most people, when they first smell, they think, 'OK, if I actually taste this, what's going to happen?' But it's actually quite smooth and fairly mellow, and I think most people that have tried it are surprised that they like it as much as they do," he said.

That's what happened when the judges tried his wine.

Kibble said the judges were warned one of the wines in their tasting flight was made with jalapenos, and they all moved it off to the side to have last.

"I think they were concerned it was going to blow their palette out," he said.

But once they got through the raspberry and blackberry wines, they tried his and were blown away.

One judge even suggested he could sell the wine commercially.

But Kibble — who also scored 90 points for his Rhone style wine and 89 points in the "other red" category — said he's not planning to open his own winery.

But if a winery asked him if they could make it?

"I suppose that would be something that would be an interesting conversation over a glass of jalapeno wine," he chuckled.

Listen to the whole interview with Jim Kibble on The Morning Edition with Craig Norris:

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