Harnessing the oportunities of wine production from Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn


( By Solomon Ojigbo)

Fruit wines are fermented alcoholic beverages made from a variety of base ingredients (other than grapes).They may also have additional flavours taken from fruits, flowers and herbs.

Fruit wine can be made from virtually any plant matter that can be fermented. Most fruits and vegetables have the potential to produce wine. Few foods other than grapes have the balanced quantities of sugar, acid, tannin, nutritive salts for yeast feeding, and water to naturally produce a stable, drinkable wine; so most wines are adjusted in one or more respects at fermentation. However, some of these products do require the addition of sugar or honey to make them palatable and to increase the alcoholic content (sugar is converted to alcohol in the fermentation process).

In recent times, there has been an increase in the use of several locally grown tropical fruits and vegetables as raw materials for alcoholic beverages (wine) production in Nigeria. Among the assortments of such indigenous tropical fruits are the kolanut (cola acuminata), cocoa (theobroma cacao L.), african star apple (chrysophyllumalbidium) and pawpaw (carica papaya). The temperature restriction of grape to the temperate regions and the very high duty on imported wines has stimulated interests in producing wines from tropical fruits.


Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) belongs to the family Malvaceae, and is an important annual   crop   grown   successfully   in   tropical   and   sub-tropical   climates . The plant is cultivated for its stem, fibre, edible calyces, leaves and seeds which are used in making various foods. The commercially important part of the plant is the fleshy calyx (sepals) surrounding the fruit (capsules). It is used for making wine, juice, jam, jelly, syrup, gelatin, pudding, cakes, ice cream and flavours and also dried and brewed into tea, among other things.

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The red calyces contain antioxidants including flavonoids, gossypetine, hibiscetine and sabdaretine.Delphinidin3-sambubioside and cyanidin 3-sambubioside are the major anthocyanins comprising 70 and 29 per cent of total anthocyanins respectively. Its calyx also contains 4 per cent citric acid, organicacids, minerals and amino acids. The seeds contain 17.8–21 per cent non-edible oil and 20 per cent protein, and are some times used for animal feed. They are intercropped with crop staples such as sorghum and sesame, or planted along field margins. The seeds were boiled,fermentedanddried for use ascondiment for local soup preparations (Yakuwaorbatsoin  Hausa) before the arrival of modern seasonings.

Fresh Roselle calyces
Fresh Roselle calyces
Dried Roselle Calyces
Dried Roselle Calyces


The fruit contains approximately 84.5 per cent water,1.7 per cent protein,1.0 per cent fats and oil, and 12 per cent carbohydrate. Its leaves, seeds, capsules and stems are also used in traditional medicines to treat various illnesses and it has been reported to have antihypertensive, hepatoprotective, anti-hyperlipidemic, anticancer, and antioxidant properties.


In Nigeria,   the productionof a non- alcoholic beverage, zobo,from dried red Roselle calyces is very popular. The drink serves as a cheaper alternative tothe industrially-produced carbonated soft drinks. The preparation procedures for zobo essentially  involves soaking   of   dried   red calyces of Roselle in hot water for a few minutes, filtration, sweetening (and maybe)flavoured with flavouringssuchas ginger,pineapple,banana,vanillaand strawberry, and packaging to obtain the final non-alcoholic  beverage  called  soborodo/ zobo.

The main areas of production in Nigeria are Kagara and Mokwa (Niger State), southern Jos (Plateau State), and Ibadan (Oyo state). The plant is also widely grown in Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, Bauchi and Kano States.

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Many investigations have been conducted on the wine-producing properties and potentials of the   Hibiscus sabdariffa. Charles Opara and Nwahia C.R. in 2012 produced red wine from Roselle flower juice using locally made yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) from palm wine.

Also other researchers (IfieIdolo et al, 2012)produced red wine from theHibiscus sabdariffa calyx extract using active dried wine yeast obtained from Lallemand Inc. Canada.According to the researchers, the wine produced was satisfactory,  having  met all the standards required of a goodwine interms of colour, flavour, taste and aroma. The high acidity gives it an edge interms of storability and resistance to microbial spoilage.


The Nigerian wine market is currently valued at over US$300 million a year. According to the Euromonitor a global research company, wine consumption in Nigeria grew from 18.8 million litres in 2006 to 44.3 million litres in 2011. This is expected to increase by 80.4 percent, that is, 79.9 million litres by 2016.

The value of the Nigerian wine industry is expected to reach US$370 million by 2015. Europe currently controls about 62 per cent of the Nigerian wine market followed by South Africa with 22 per cent. Wine growth in Nigeria is driven by numerous factors: continued population growth, desire for new types of alcoholic drinks, increase in female drinking population, increase in health consciousness among Nigerians, higher incomes, and progressive westernisation.

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Many industry analysts believe that the local wine industry has blossoming potentials, even though grapes are not grown in the country. Though the production of alcoholic wines may be quite challenging for local manufacturers, fruit wines can be manufactured locally.The use of locally grown fruits and vegetables like Hibiscus sabdariffa for wine production can be exploited commercially as this would leadto profitable foreign exchange and would invariably increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Hibiscus sabdariffa is readily available and quite cheap.Thus, it can be a profitable substrate for the Nigerian wine industry.


  •     Bolade MK, Oluwalana IB, Ojo O (2009). Commercial Practice of Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffaL.) Beverage Production: Optimization of Hot Water Extraction and Sweetness Level. W orld J. Agric. Sci., 5(1):126-131.
  •  Haji FM, Haji TA (1999). The effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on essential hypertension. J. Ethnopharmacol., 65: 231-236.
  •   Mounigan P, Badrie N (2006). Roselle/sorrel (Hibiscus subdariffa L.)wines  with  varying  calyx  puree  and  total  soluble solids:  sensory acceptance, quantitative descriptive and physicochemical analysis J. Foodserv., 17, 102-110.
  •  Ifie I., Olurin T.O. and Aina J.O. Production and quality attributes of vegetable wine from Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn, African Journal of Food Science Vol. 6(7), pp. 212-215, 15 April, 2012
  •  Okoro, Casmir Emeka (2007) Production of red wine fromroselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and pawpaw (Carica papaya) using palm- wine   yeast   (Saccharomyces   cerevisiae)   Nigerian   Food   J.25(2):158:164
  • Omemu AM, Edema MO, Atayese, Obadina AO (2006). A survey of the microflora  of  Hibiscus  sabdariffa  (Roselle)  and  the  resulting “Zobo” juice. Afr. J. Biotechnol., 5(3): 254-259.







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