Anyone that has searched the couch cushions for a handful of change knows that boozing on an extreme budget can be a risky proposition. To help you decide how to spend that meager pile of pennies, we've scraped the Bottom of the Barrel to review some of the cheapest screw top wines on the market. This week: Bartles & Jaymes Wine Coolers. The Vintage: B & J's Pina Colada Wine Cooler, ABV 3.5%
Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers are more closely related to their fruity alco-pop cousin Boone's Farm than actual wine. In fact, they're borderline indistinguishable, relying largely on neon dye and fake fruit flavors to sell (because it's most certainly not the delectable flavor or ABV that's sealing the deal).
All the Suzy Sororities and Holly Homemakers of the world that think alcohol tastes icky--we toast to you!
(See, swirl, sniff, sip and savor this bounty after the jump)
Appearance: Cloudy with a slightly yellow tint, as if to hint at the presence of pineapple. Compared to the electric reds and blues that characterize many of the other B & J wine coolers, this offering is fairly sedate and an ideal opportunity to go incognito with your guilty pleasure by pouring it into a glass before consuming.
Bouquet: Swirl this beverage around and allow the fruity sensation to transport you to the tropics! It's practically a vacation in a bottle! That is, if by tropical vacation you mean rubbing suntan oil on your dad's hairy back around the public pool. Ain't nothing like pee-filled pool water to really set the mood.
Body: It has the characteristic carbonation of most cheap, wine-ish products like Arbor Mist and Boone's. This helps to distract your tongue with bubbles so that the chemical-laden concoction can run amok. Although the ingredients were not listed, sugar and suntan oil would most certainly be at the top, followed closely by artificial fruit flavors and trace amounts of alcohol.
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Finish: Kicking back one of these suckers is the exact opposite of downing a fortified wine that could well de-rust an engine block. B & J's wine coolers go down smooth. As easy as pounding a can of soda and it coats your teeth with the same sugary plaque sweaters.
Pairs with: The website suggests that this vintage be consumed with "your favorite tropical foods." Based on the price point, we recommend you break out the spam and canned fruit cocktail. And maybe a can of those mini shrimps to class up the joint.
Lasting impressions: Is there no end to the death grip that the Gallo brothers have on the cheap wine market? Yet again, we have E & J Gallo Winery to thank for this purported "wine" product that is actually composed of 50% water, 20% sunblock, 10% unidentified fermented fruit juice, and 10% chemicals with traces of unnatural fruit flavor.
If your palate has evolved to the point where you can consume beer without cringing, we highly recommend you do that instead of pounding back this bottle of tropical sugar water. It tastes nothing like a pina colada and will leave you with a massive sugar hangover.