Sops in Wine

A person in Suffolk sent these apples and suggested they are the ancient variety "Sops in Wine". They certainly fit the name; their colouring is as if they had been soused in red wine. If anyone recognises them, I would appreciate an email. They are highly scented, season August to November, and, as you can see, of spectacular appearance. The flavour is quite strong and pleasant; fairly tart but sweet with a hint of blackcurrant. These apples are from an ancient tree (100 years+, rather spindly and slow growing) in a Suffolk village. There cannot be many varieties looking like this.

Note that in many gardens, this variety does not develop a pink colouration. In mine, for example, all I see is a dirty pink. Cool evenings or a period of cool storage for a week or two are necessary for the red pigment (anthocyanin) to be synthesized. Apples from my tree are shown in the third picture.


possibly the apple variety 'sops in wine'..... possibly the apple variety 'sops in wine'..... possibly the apple variety 'sops in wine'.....


blossom, 'sops in wine'..... blossom, 'sops in wine'.....

unusual pink blossom, 'sops in wine apple'.....

Sops in Wine is a reputedly pink-fleshed apple from the18th century. Brogdale's trees, however, are not red fleshed. Blossom from the two types is shown above.

HOGG, 1884, gives this description:- "Fruit, rather above medium size, two inches and three-quarters broad, and the same in height ; roundish, but narrowing a little towards the eye, and slightly ribbed on the sides. Skin, covered with a delicate white bloom, which when rubbed off exhibits a smooth, shining, and varnished rich deep chestnut, almost approaching to black, on the side exposed to the sun, but on the shaded side it is of a light orange-red, and where very much shaded quite yellow, the whole strewed with minute dots. Eye, small, half open, with long, broad, and reflexed segments, placed in a round and slightly angular basin. Stamens, marginal or median ; tube, conical. Stalk, half an inch long, inserted in a deep funnel-shaped cavity. Flesh, red, as if sopped in wine, tender, sweet, juicy, and pleasantly flavoured. Cells, round ; axile, slit.

A very ancient English culinary and cider apple, but perhaps more singular than useful ; it is in use from October to February. The tree is vigorous and spreading, very hardy, an excellent bearer, and not subject to canker.

    Mel Wilson added the following comments, and seems to have sorted out the confusion:

    I think what you and others are missing is that there is no one Sops in Wine.

    The National Register Makes that very clear, listing two versions but also noting "many red-fleshed apples of this name".

    Version 1 orginates in England description 1831.

    Size medium, shape intermediate to flat, rectangular to trucate-conic, convex, slightly ribbed on body and at eye, skin yellow to orange-red. flushed dark crimson, flesh tender, white, much stained red, flavour sweet, season late.

    This seems to match your example and matches Hogg's description.

    Version 2 maybe England, maybe US, recorded 1832

    Size medium to large, shape intermediate, rectangular to truncate-conic, convex,slightly ribbed, asymetric, skin greenish yellow, almost entirly flushed purplish red, mottled, splashed and stripped dark carmine, bloom, russet at base, slightly rough, flesh soft, fine, yellowish, often stained pink, aromatic, subacid, season early to mid.

    This seems to match the one most often offered, e.g.




    I believe both are correct, ie sops in wine, but you may have the one infrequently seen, and possibily not in the national fruit collection.

    It would be interesting to grow both and see how they compare. The season seems to be a key divider and version 1 has far more red, it seems.

    It would also be good to compare both with Pendragon, as this is said to be a Cornwall version of Sops in Wine.


UPDATE....here's Pendragon, photographed in 2011..... comparing it to my supposed redfleshed Sops-in-Wine. .....Pendragon has little scent, is darker in flesh colour, and has a more 'basic' flavour; quite good, but no hint of berries. It also has a more pointed shape. Redfleshed Sops-in-Wine is more aromatic and highly scented.

Pendragon, Sept 2011; picture supplied by Melanie Wilson

A more reliably redfleshed Sops-in-Wine has been passed to me by M.W. and is strikingly different to the one at the top of the page in size, taste and colour. It has the typical 'chequerboard' of red and white colouring inside which one sees in many wild redfleshed seedlings. The apple is much smaller; its flavour is very mild and the texture fairly soft; slightly tart but with a hint of strawberries. There is a slight floral aroma and just a hint of a bitter aftertaste. This is similar to the 'Dubbelman' apple mentioned elsewhere on the site. The leaves and scion wood are red, as is the blossom.

The pictures below: the larger apple is Bloody Ploughman, showing a slight pink tinge internally; the smaller apple is a redfleshed Sops-in-Wine.

Redfleshed Sops-in-Wine and Bloody Ploughman - English apples.... Redfleshed Sops-in-Wine and Bloody Ploughman - English apples...

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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