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, most face-planting, getcha drunk wines on the market. This week: Night Train Express. The Vintage: Night Train Express, ABV 17.5%
Night Train Express is the red-headed step child of E & J Gallo Winery, left out of all the Xmas photos and desperate for someone to hold them. Nowhere on the bottle will you see mention of this patronage, but Night Train (and his boozy sis Thunderbird) were the stalwart backs upon which the Gallos paved their road to winemaking legitimacy. Poor Night Train got ridden hard and put away wet, a euphemism that will likely apply to how you feel after a ride on this one way ticket to some serious gutter wine regrets. But Guns N' Roses dedicated a song to it, so at least it's got one famous fan among a legion of skid row drunks.
Pack it up because the Night Train Express is leaving the station! This evening's route will take us from tipsy to sloppy in record time, with a short layover for indulging in some bad life choices. Since you're already drinking this wine, it's a start. All aboard!
(See, swirl, sniff, sip and savor this bounty after the jump)
Appearance: Unlike some of the more exotic-colored gutter wines, the appearance of Night Train is pretty innocuous. The translucent pink liquid could easily double as cranberry juice or watered-down red table wine. This is one vintage that doesn't need to rely on cheap gimmicks like dying its contents blue to sell. If you're buying Night Train, you are well aware of the type of evening you have relegated yourself to.
Bouquet: Fumes of alcohol waft off this bottle and if you're not careful they'll scar your retinas in the process. Despite the intensity of the bouquet, it miraculously manages to retain a wine-like aroma. An acidic vinegary bite and wafts of mysterious chemicals infringe upon the smell of wine, but it's not dominant enough to deter you from knocking back a swig or two (or ten).
Body: Watered down red table wine was right on the mark. Night Train is smooth and drinkable, if not a little bit on the sweet side. If I had to go so far as to blaspheme dessert wines, I would say it belonged in that category. It tastes almost exactly like Thunderbird (its bum wine comrade in arms) but with a handful of sugar and some Red No. 1 added to the mix.
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Finish: Night Train bites the back of your throat and leaves a warm trail all the way down your gullet. If I had to choose a ghetto wine to keep me warm in the dead of winter, this would be my top ranked candidate.
Pairs with: Cheesy poofs, white cheddar popcorn, squeeze cheese from a can, and any other wholly unnatural imitation cheese product. Considering this is faux wine, you can get by with a faux cheddah spread.
Lasting impressions: Night Train Express is deceptive. It is absolutely by no means a good wine, but it'll get you faced and do so whispering sweet nothings into your ear the whole time. It's a bit sugary but doesn't taste all that bad, and it lacks the rubbing alcohol profile of most bum wines, so the finish is smooth and doesn't scorch your esophagus to dust in the process. Clear the room upon opening the bottle though, because hot damn, those are some potent fumes.
Night Train will put a fire in your belly and have you making bad life decisions in record time. It's an 18% ABV screw top wine that will screw up your judgment after the first couple of swigs. That is, if you don't pass out first. The aptly named Night Train has the unfortunate side effect of dropping you into dreamland faster than an Ambien and a fifth of Jack (not recommended). You will smell like a wino the day after consuming this, and you will do so with a raging headache and a sense of shame that can't be showered away.