Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Friends Fun Wine

While the wine and the beer industries appear quite similar on the surface, they have lots of differences. One major difference is the discrepancy with creative products. Brewers can be some of the most creative beverage producers on Earth. There are almost an infinite number of beer flavors/styles. If you can dream something to put in a beer, a brewer has probably used it as an ingredient. Fruit and coffee seem to be common additions.

Winemakers tend to not be as creative. A long list of approved additives exist, but grapes are the primary ingredient in wine. Sure, oak is often used as a flavoring agent but you don't see other flavors added to the wine. Occasionally producers use different types of barrels to impart different tastes and textures. Recently, I've seen a few producers that use old bourbon barrels to add a bourbon-esque flavors.

Friends Fun Wine coffee-flavored wines
This week I tasted two of the most creative wines I've ever tasted. Granted, they were two of the most disgusting wines I've ever tasted, but combining wine and coffee sounds like some wildly imaginative idea my five-year-old son came up with. Friends Fun Wine (6% abv, Sample $2) produces a line of flavored "wine products." Composed of wine, juice, "flavorings," water and sugar, the Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino tasted like I ripped out the coffee entry in Richard Betts' Scratch & Sniff guide to wine and ate the page. It was perhaps one of the worst things I've ever put in my mouth. That was until I tried the Cabernet Coffee Espresso. This Cabomination (my term) tasted so bad I don't think I can even describe it in words; something akin to a tootsie roll that was left sitting in a glass of Manischewitz for a week.

Also a letdown is the producer's claim of being the world's first coffee wine. In fact, a Colorado producer, Aspen Peak Cellars, actually produces a coffee and chocolate infused zinfandel that is actually pretty good. Now, I'm not saying no one will find these canned concoctions tasty, but I certainly did not. Perhaps if you order three extra pumps in your vanilla Frappuccino you might actually enjoy the Friends Fun Wine lineup. If you drink your coffee black, stay away...


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