It\u2019s easy to misunderstand plum wine. For starters, the sweet-and-sour Japanese beverage is not a wine at all\u2014it\u2019s booze infused with plums, rather than fruit fermented into alcohol.\r\n\r\n\u201cPlum wine, or umeshu, is a liqueur made by steeping ume, or the Japanese plum, in some sort of liquor,\u201d says Justin Park, co-owner/head bartender of Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu.\r\n\r\nShochu is a common base spirit, but distillers also use brandy or sak\u00e9 to soak ume.\r\n\r\nThat fruit might be misleading, too. Green- or yellow-skinned ume taste considerably more tart than their purple-hued cousins. Part of the apricot family, they\u2019re believed to have originated in China, but Anglophones tend to use the terms \u201cume\u201d and \u201cJapanese plum\u201d interchangeably.\r\n\r\nSome drinkers aren\u2019t entirely sure what to expect from plum wine. They wonder if it will be dark purple. Others harbor the misconception that all iterations are overly sweet.\r\n\r\nBoth are untrue. Most plum wines are peach or gold in color and, as with any beverage, there\u2019s diversity.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere are a variety of high-grade umeshu,\u201d says Kenta Goto, owner of Bar Goto in New York City. \u201cThey remind me of Sauternes or Pedro Xim\u00e9nez Sherry.\u201d\r\n\r\nPark compares umeshu to vermouth or fortified wines.\r\n\r\nGoto suggests serving umeshu on the rocks or mixed with club soda, but it can also be incorporated into cocktails.\r\n\r\n\u201cAt Bar Goto, we often replace vermouth with umeshu and make [a] Rob Roy or spritz,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nPark often swaps it in for \u201csomething like a vermouth or Sherry\u201d in mixed drinks. And, as much as he\u2019d like to use fresh fruit in his drinks, \u201cthe Japanese plum is not always available,\u201d says Park. \u201cSo plum wine, or umeshu, is a great substitute. It gives a cocktail more body and an added touch of sweetness and sour.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuality bottles include Toko Ginjo Umeshu and Nakata Umeshu Taru, which features top-grade plums and is aged in used oak. The most readily available brand in the U.S. is Choya, and its bottles tend to be on the sweeter end of the spectrum.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s fairly easy to make plum wine at home. Just add ume and sugar to your base spirit, cover and store the mixture in a cool, dark place for a minimum of three months.