Army Worm Wine

image I've posted previously about snake wine, which I thought sounded pretty gross, but I could understand how it was made. Snakes are simply added to rice wine. However, Army Worm Wine is another matter altogether. Ray Reigstad says that he makes this concoction directly from army worms (they're those creatures that hang in web-like tents from trees). In other words, he's not just adding them to rice wine. He's somehow fermenting the worms themselves to produce a wine that supposedly tastes like pinot grigio or white bordeaux. Here's how he says that it's done:

As far as the process goes, I simply treated them as a combination of a fruit and a flower, after all, they eat leaves. Other ingredients include sugar, water, champagne yeast (from Canada), yeast nutrient, pectic enzymes, acid blend and campden tablets. This wine was made in Duluth, Minnesota in small batches using highly sterile equipment. It registers approximately 11% alcohol on the vino-meter.

I'm not a wine expert (though I like drinking it), but just because the worms eat leaves doesn't mean they're sugary enough to ferment. Or does it? My gut instinct (for some reason) is to believe that this stuff is real, but I'd like to know more about how it's made.


Posted on Thu Jan 27, 2005


It doesn't seem to mention where one can purchase the wine. Perhaps it is just a ploy to sell T-shirts?
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  12:20 AM
Posted by thephrog  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  01:32 AM
Why would anyone bother doing this if they can't even sell it? I think it might be a ploy to sell the T-shirts too.
I wonder how many worms it takes to make a gallon? The poor worms! Are they alive when he subjects them to this fermenting process? Do they get drunk? Where does he get all these worms? I think PETA would like to know about this guy! Nobody is thinking of the WORMS! Don't their lives matter?! Poor little worm, crawling around, living it's life, only to end up squished together with other members of it's family and friends, it's juices cruely pressed out of it and fremented then put in some bottle with a ridiculous cartoon picture on it. It's disgraceful! And I'm suppose to celebrate this barbarism by buying a T-shirt!
I THINK NOT!!! 😠 😝
Posted by Glamcat  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  05:46 AM
It seems as though the sugar and other fermentables are simply added to the mixture. I doubt mashed caterpillars would ferment at all, but the way he describes it, this sounds like it would be workable. I suspect the site is real - but the mystery is why anyone would bother to try this.
Posted by Matt  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  07:03 AM
He says on his site that he's not allowed to sell the wine, which I think would be true because you do need a license to sell alcohol. If he's just producing a few bottles of this stuff it wouldn't be worth it for him to get a license.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  08:02 AM
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we call them tent caterpillars, and they're a major nuisance, defoliating trees quite quickly. I used to have nightmares about them as a child. But I still wouldn't want to taste them, let alone drink booze made from them. Ew. What's next? Cockroach coolers? Junebug gin? Vermin vodka?
I don't like the direction this is taking....ew, again.
Posted by catlady  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  08:15 AM
Back in the day, I played The Blues for a living. I played at several joints around town, but my favorite was Smokey's Hotel. On the back bar, next to the register, they had a big jar of snakes and reptiles in alcohol. It was a BIG jar, 3/4 of a gal or so. I don't do metric, so don't go there. Anyway, there was no less than twenty-five reptiles in this jar, which was festooned with Chinese lettering and dragons and such. There were little newts, small and bigger snakes, little alligators, a frog, geckos,etc. all immersed in what I assume was grain or rice alcohol. Legend says some guys brought it back from Vietnam, and was left in a rented room (along with pictures of Henry Kissinger in the arms of Gina Lollabrigida, but that's another story) As far as I know, the jar wasn't there to sell the contents to customers. It was waiting there in case the owner comes back for it. That, and because it gave drunk chicks a thrill.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  08:58 AM
Hairy, that's just nasty. Do you think they still have it? I mean, what on earth would you do with something like that? YUK.
What instrument do you play?
Posted by Glamcat  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  09:05 AM
Well, here's the deal. The owners of the Bar/Hotel failed to renew their liquor license a couple of years ago. It seem that their business fell off quite abruptly, somewhere around the time that I retired. Hey, I'm not implying a connection, but nothing brings 'em in like a good blues bar band. Anyways, they closed up shop not long after they lost the liquor license, and then failed to pay local real estate taxes. The place is now up for Sherrif's sale, in the next week or so, for the unpaid tax price of $25,000- that's twenty-five thousand dollars. That would be the minimum taken, I'd think. It's a big, three story old inn with eight or so rooms to rent, a bar, pool table hall, and a kitchen. Back to the snake jar. They have Sherrif's sale signs in the window, and the neon Bud light is off, but if you look thru the windows (it's right up against the sidewalk) you can see the Big Jar Of Snakes still sitting, all by itself, on the empty, dusty, bar. The best part about this place is the fact that it's right across the street from the train station. I played whatever I had to get the gig, GlamGrrrl. It depended upon who was available to play. A couple of the guys wouldn't play at the biker gigs, and some had significant others who objected if they played in THAT bar. So, you gotta be versatile to get the job done. If I had known that Smokey's was gonna close down, I would have asked for the Big Jar of Snakes for my retirement present. I'll just have to buy the bar. As if.
Posted by Hairy houdini  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  09:49 AM
Sounds like a bargain. You could get at least $25,000 for a "haunted, fermented snake jar" on ebay! Don't you think? Might be worth getting your hands on that thing Hairy! I can't believe they didn't take it with them! What town is this place in anyway? What a creepy site that must be looking through the abandoned window at the jar just sitting there on the empty dusty bar. Can you get a picture of it?
Posted by Glamcat  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  10:09 AM
I doubt the jar is worth anything. They are a dime a dozen in China, I've even seen them regularly in Chinatown and Chinese restaurants.
Posted by G  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  12:04 PM
You are correct, G. They are quite common. But for those of us who don't live in China, or near Chinatown, or even near a Chinese restaurant, they are a rare sight to behold. We don't get out much around here. That's why my band was successful. The one eyed man is king in the land of the blind. King Hairy- that's me. We thank you for your comments. We stand corrected. You may go.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  01:00 PM
Harry, I have this song in my head:
Henry and Gina
Sittin in a tree
Posted by Chadds Ford Prefect  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  04:41 PM
Hey. You know that Boston Market on Rt 1 just East of Kennett?
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  05:11 PM
I do, but I'm not Bill (if I correctly recall a Kennett person mentioned recently).
Posted by Chadds Ford Prefect  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  05:48 PM
I've made alcohol (mead) and you need a lot of sugar, because that's what the yeast eat to produce alcohol. Bugs don't have much sugar. If he's getting alcohol, it's not due to the caterpillars, it's all the other stuff.

Now, caterpillars would have some protein, and maybe they add a certain je ne sais quoi to the taste. But I'd rather not try it myself, because I don't know where the line is between "fermented caterpillars" and "rotten caterpillars."
Posted by cvirtue  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  06:47 PM
>>>after all, they eat leaves.<<<

Well, so do koalas, but I don't think you could make wine from them either....

I don't know a lot about brewing, but I was pretty sure the basic material had to be vegetable in nature.

Glamcat, if you had ever seen a dozen or so of these worms (we call them webworms around here) infesting and destroying the trees in someone's front yard, you wouldn't have much empathy for them either. Imagine a web the size of a football, dripping hundreds of squishy green caterpillar-things. You have to set fire to the webs to get rid of them.
Posted by Barghest  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  07:07 PM
Well, Bill lives just South of rt 1 on Sills Mill Road. Say Hi for me. Say Hi to those nice Wyeth boys, too.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  12:40 AM
Are you closer to Concord Pike, or Route 100?
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  12:42 AM
Hoorah to that, Barghest! In southern NJ, we called them 'tent catarpillars', and pretty much the same in western PA. I did fire battles with them in Maryland, too. These pests deserve nothing but to burn and DIE! The only ecological good they do, is to provide a few, scarce species of birds with some lively food. But I have seen them completely strip a formerly productive fruit tree in two days. The trees die.
Posted by stork  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  12:42 AM
Stork- I can't remember... What was the worm/caterpillar infestation in NJ,PA,MD,etc about ten years ago? I just can't remember the name of that bug. The cacoons were everywhere.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  12:47 AM
You DO know I was kidding about the PETA thing? right? I say BURN THE BASTARDS!!!! Make gallons of wine out of them! I don't give a shit!
Posted by Glamcat  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  06:35 AM
"Well, Bill lives just South of rt 1 on Sills Mill Road. Say Hi for me. Say Hi to those nice Wyeth boys, too.
Posted by Hairy Houdini on Fri Jan 28, 2005 at 11:40 PM"

My cousin's (Frolic's) neighbors - I moved to Sillydelphia.
We put tape on the trees to keep those legless wormy creeps at bay. A friend of a friend told us it worked.
Posted by Chadds Ford Prefect  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  08:39 AM
I think you've got the date about pegged, Hairy H. We moved up to western PA about 9 1/2 years ago. The area had just gotten done with a terrible 3-yr long gypsy moth infestation that killed thousands of acrea of forest. And then wild fires broke out in numerous areas of the mountains (that would be the eastern Laurel Highlands area), fed by all the dead wood. Reasearchers from Penn State finally solved the problem by releasing millions of sterilized parasitic black flies that killed the gypsy moth caterpillars by laying their eggs at the base of the caterpiller's brain stems. The eggs didn't develop, being unfertilized, but the gypsy moths couldn't survive pupation into adults with the fly eggs there. So, kill two birds with one stone - the gypsy moths died, and the black flies did, too; pretty good science, huh? The following summer there was an explosion of tent caterpillars that stripped another hundred or so thousand acres of PA forests, orchards, and home fruit and decorative trees. I almost burned down a flowering Japanese willow in my yard one evening while trying to burn out their nests. Make wine with them? I still can picture scraping them of the bottom of my sneakers, coming in from the yard! DIE - You evil alien haunted demon BUGS!!!
Posted by stork  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  11:09 AM
Given the additives this vintner admits to using (sugar, water, yeast, yeast nutrients, etc.), you could make wine (or at least an alcoholic beverage) out of shoes, lug nuts, or just about anything. The worms or snakes or baby octopuses or whatever floating around in the bottle are irrelevant to the fermentation going on. To claim that you have real army worm wine, it seems to me that army worms should be the only, or at least the main, ingredient. After all, regular wine is made entirely of grape juice with nothing added but (sometimes) yeast.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  03:45 PM
Well, the guy is in Minnesota, he probably had a lot of time to think something up while he was locked in his house all winter. Now, this is what he drinks to keep warm.
Posted by Maegan  on  Sun Jan 30, 2005  at  06:51 AM
I don't know anything about this caterpillar wine, but I've tried the snake stuff and the 5 penis wine before(although that was more like brandy then wine). The stuff I had in campodia was just stoly vodka with a cobra inside. It tasted skunky and make my buddy sick for days. A friend of mine keeps a bottle of the snake baijio at his place and we crack into it everytime we're pissed. Makes for nasty hangovers.
Posted by Frankie  on  Sun Jan 30, 2005  at  11:17 AM
Yeah, GYSPY Moths. Why that named escaped me, i don't know. All those black flies didn't croak, though. I live in North Central Pa., and we get them in such numbers that it looks like Amittyville sometimes. And then we got these chinese ladybugs a few years back. They hang year round and they stink. They'd make a bad wine, to be sure.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sun Jan 30, 2005  at  01:01 PM
>>>You DO know I was kidding about the PETA thing? right?<<<

Well then congratulations, you trolled me. Someone help me get this hook out of my mouth...

Having seen the webby little worm bastards up close and experienced their disgustingness, I have no desire at all to consume any part of them, no matter how divinely delicious the wine in question might be. I simply cannot bring myself to fancy a sip of hooch made from one of nature's very plagues upon our green earth. I would not drink locust cider or bubonic daiquiris, either, Sam I am....
Posted by Barghest  on  Tue Feb 01, 2005  at  02:18 AM
Listen up here people. This is Ray, the maker of AWW and this stuff is REAL and good. Come on over if you want to try it. I'll pour you a glass. I am thrilled to see America's workforce debating the merits of army worm wine and so forth. Your bosses must be so proud of you all! I love this country...
Posted by Rau Reigstad  on  Fri Feb 25, 2005  at  07:43 PM
So there you have it folks. It does not give YOU brain worms or the cosmic hee-bee gee bee's. It's simple, pure, organic and crisp. I sort of wish though that I had the time to go that far out of my way to sell about 100 T-shirts. The world would be even a greater place then. Gee, let me think, how can I sell some shirts? HMMM, start a website, register the domain name, pay somewone to build it, do about fifty fucking radio and TV interviews and then have people from all over the world call me AND my relatives begging to buy worm wine? And THEN, then I could have bored losers write detractions on the internet (probably the same type of people who actually watch "Survivor" or "Everybody Loves Raymand", real quality time spent there...) I know, I'll print T-shirts! What fun.
Posted by Ray Reigstad  on  Sat Feb 26, 2005  at  03:46 PM
Well... at least there's alwasy Absinthe... ( )

70% Alcohol (140 Proof) Alcohol. Get your mind right.
Posted by Drunken_Bastard  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  09:01 PM
It is real and it's not bad. I live in duluth mn and have had a chance to partake several times.
Posted by bamboozle  on  Mon Jul 10, 2006  at  06:55 PM
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