What is Umeshu Plum Wine and How to Drink It

ume plum wine cocktail

What is Japanese plum wine, or umeshu (梅酒)? Plum wine is a bit of a misnomer. It is technically a liqueur made from ume plums, shochu, and sugar. In fact, enjoyed on its own or in cocktails, it is Japan’s most popular liqueur with over 300 different brands, including premium barrel-aged versions. However, being easy to make, almost every Japanese household has their own family recipe.

Plum wine came to Japan from China roughly 400 years ago. Like many great liqueurs, plum wine began as a cough medicine. But, it’s true purpose was quickly discovered and has remained popular ever since.

Today we’ll show you how to make your own version out of our vacuum-distilled black sugar shochu. We’ll then follow up with some easy plum wine cocktail recipes that will guarantee to make umeshu making an annual tradition in your home, too.

How to Make Your Own

Beginning around mid-May to June, it is ume plum season. It’s a short window to buy these unripe, green fruits. Sour and tart, they are quite inedible on their own and liable to give you indigestion so keep that in mind.

As our recipe below states, you’ll need a large 2L jar, about 1 lb of ume plums, half a pound of rock sugar, and a bottle of Nankai Shochu. Alternate layers of ume and sugar inside the jar and then cover them with shochu. Store the jar in a cool dark place for at least 3-6 months, preferably longer. An interesting note is that plum wine is an infusion of plums into shochu rather than fermenting the plums into alcohol.

How to Enjoy Umeshu

Enjoy plum wine neat, on the rocks, or in a simple highball. However, the sweet and sour plum liqueur works well as a replacement for vermouth and can thus also be used in cocktails.

Below you will find recipes for our Nankai Shochu-based umeshu plum wines. The first one is Umezou (梅蔵), which translates roughly to “plum treasure trove,” and is a decadent highball-style plum wine cocktail. It combines our barrel-aged Nankai Gold with the Nankai umeshu and extends it with soda water.

The second umeshu cocktail is Umeko (梅子), or “plum child,” and is a more playful, sweet highball cocktail. It features Nankai umeshu, lemon juice, grenadine, and soda water. Absolutely lovely as a dessert cocktail enjoyed with a creamy brie cheese.

ume plum wine cocktail
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Umeko (梅子) Nankai Plum Wine Cocktail

A beautiful low-ABV plum wine cocktail made with ume plum-infused Nankai Shochu, grenadine, lemon juice, and soda water.
Prep Time90 d
Cook Time3 mins
Total Time90 d 3 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: grenadine, homemade, lemon juice, nankai shochu, plum wine, shochu, Shochu cocktail, ume, umeshu
Servings: 1
Calories: 153kcal

Equipment

  • Large 2L+ Jar with Cover

Ingredients

Nankai Plum Wine (Ume Plum-infused Nankai Shochu)

  • 750 ml Nankai Shochu
  • 16 oz Ume Plums
  • 8 oz Rock Sugar

Umeko Cocktail

  • 2 oz Nankai Plum Wine
  • 2 oz Soda Water
  • 0.5 oz Grenadine Syrup
  • 0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Lemon Peel For Garnish
  • 1 Apple Slice For Garnish

Instructions

Nankai Plum Wine

  • In a large 2L jar, alternate layers of plums and rock sugar.
  • Pour Nankai Shochu into jar until it is 1 inch above plums.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3-6 months (preferably longer).

Umeko Cocktail

  • Add plum wine, lemon and grenadine over ice in a glass.
  • Gently top with soda water.
  • Stir gently.
  • Garnish with apple slice and lemon peel. Serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 5oz | Calories: 153kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Sugar: 21g
Nankai Shochu Ume-Infused Cocktail
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Umezou (梅蔵) Nankai Umeshu Cocktail

Ume Plum-infused Nankai Shochu combined with Nankai Gold and soda water for a decadent plum wine highball.
Prep Time90 d
Cook Time3 mins
Total Time90 d 3 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: highball, nankai gold, nankai shochu, plum wine, shochu, Shochu cocktail, soda water, ume, umeshu
Servings: 1
Calories: 117kcal

Equipment

  • 2L Jar with Cover

Ingredients

Nankai Plum Wine (Ume Plum-Infused Nankai Shochu)

  • 750 ml Nankai Shochu
  • 16 oz Ume Plums
  • 8 oz Rock Sugar Can also use black sugar

Umezou Cocktail

  • 1 oz Nankai Plum Wine
  • 1 oz Nankai Gold
  • 4 oz Soda Water
  • 1 Lemon Peel For Garnish

Instructions

Nankai Plum Wine (Ume Infusion)

  • In large jar, alternate layers of plum and rock sugar.
  • Add Nankai Shochu into jar until an inch above plums.
  • Store at least 3-6 months (preferably longer) in a cool, dark place.

Umezou Cocktail

  • Combine Umeshu, Nankai Gold, and ice in a glass.
  • Gently add soda water and stir.
  • Garnish with peel and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.8g | Sugar: 6.8g

For more cocktails, try our main cocktail page:

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