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04 May 2011 @ 07:39 pm
So I realize it's been a hot minute since I reviewed a bum wine. I apologize and I desperately want to correct that oversight, but I do have a job that requires mental alertness so I've been giving the bum wine a rest. At some point in the future we'll get a new one out there. I hear Mad Dog has a "Dragonfruit" flavor now. Doesn't that sound lovely...

While we wait, here's a fun little article with lots of bells & whistles:

I love Thunderbird. Not as a beverage, of course, but as a concept. Out of all the great bum wines, street wines, hooch, rotgut, and ghetto libations Thunderbird is by far the most storied and easily the classiest. What strikes me about Thunderbird is how it unabashedly attempts to present itself as something refined. Maybe it's because it's a Gallo product and can't help it, but the Thunderbird Logo and the design of the bottle just screams "I want to be more than I am!"

It's classic winged crest (which apparently hasn't been changed since 1987) evokes a 40's Art Deco design sensibility and readily brings forth imagery of smoky dives and dangerous women pulled from the pages of a Raymond Chandler novel. Even the photo above which is well-traveled on the Internet and borrowed for the express purpose of its familiarity can't help pairing a bottle of T-bird with its natural compliments: smokes and shattered dreams. (I'm stretching for that last one based on the picture, but nobody with intact dreams and ambitions poses a bottle of bum wine.)

The history of Thunderbird has been recounted before, but I'll retread it now for the benefit of completeness: Despite the current label espousing its production at a front company called "Thunderbird Ltd." it's actually a Gallo product. Thunderbird's existence can be owed mostly to the sales-minded half of the E&J Gallo Co., Ernest Gallo who decided in the 1930's that his small, California-based wine company which he ran in partnership with brother Julio should be the "Campbell's Soup" of the wine industry. The company introduced Thunderbird in 1957 and unashamedly marketed it to lower-class, inner-city neighborhoods banking on its cheap price (Thirty twice!) and high ABV%. As Ernest was wont to tell, he once drove through a depressed urban slum, saw a vagrant on the street and called out "What's the word?" to which the homeless man replied "Thunderbird!"

Thunderbird has been in production now for 54 years and I don't expect it to go anywhere. Like it's red counterpart Night Train it's part the fabric of American life. Night Train has been referenced from the Blues Brothers to Van Halen and Thunderbird has manged to wrangle up its own decent set of media. In celebration of everyone's favorite piss-colored domestic hallucinogen, I present some of the finest Thunderbird-related videos YouTube has to offer. Some of these may be familiar to you, others not so much, but make no mistake: some of these songs are true miracles. If anything Thunderbird should retard your sense of creativity, not inspire it.


First up it's James Mason informing you that Thunderbird has an "usual" flavor. James Mason had a true gift for understatement.

Stick around 14 seconds in when the 1977 Thunderbird "Shake 'Em Up" commercial drags you down into a disco abyss.

Here's Jason Boland & the Stragglers playing a bit of the old "Thunderbird Wine."

The legendary Townes van Zandt and talking blues about the Bird.

The Tony Auton Band playing "Thunderbird Wine." This is my personal favorite of all the Thunderbird-inspired tunes floating around out there.

Seasick Steve's "Thunderbird."

Finally, here's ZZ Top covering "Thunderbird" by the Nightcaps. I tried to find a decent live video, but none of them had terribly good quality. Use your imagination to summon the beards.

So that's it for me right now. You can go on YouTube and do some more research if the mood descends. There are quite a few video blogs & channels dealing with wine tasting & reviewing that have humorously sampled Thunderbird. I'd link them up, but I don't want to step on toes. There's a whole world of Thunderbird aficionado's out there. All you have to do is look. They generally live in deserted buildings, railway cars, in shopping carts, and on heating ducts.

I'll leave you with my own entry; me and my pedestrian band called Substitute playing our own ode to the high-flying American Classic. Skip ahead about 40 seconds to avoid listening to us talk. It's not the best quality recording and you can't see me, the big silhouette in the center of the frame, but that's okay because I'm grotesque.


Current Location: A Fetal Ball
Current Mood: jubilantjubilant
Current Music: See Above
17 April 2010 @ 04:42 pm

We're gonna rock down to Electric Avenue... and then we'll sink even lower into our numb, booze-soaked depression.


SUBJECT: Electric Melon
LABEL: MD 20/20
PRICE / VOL.: $2.29 / 375ml.
ABV: 13%
LOCATION: New Brunswick, New Jersey

NEW RATING SYSTEM: We here at the Great Bum Wine Review have decided that, in order to present ourselves as a "legitimate" source of information on such studies, we would revamp our rating system to better match the strenuous systems of evaluation used in actual wine judging.

PRESENTATION: Opaque, cloudy pink. No substance on earth looks like this aside from Mad Dog.
BOUQUET: Pink-colored freeze-pop & Jolly Ranchers with some slight cotton candy overtones.
MOUTH-FEEL: Thick & numbing with abrasive kitchen cleaner acidity. Sticks to the side of the tongue.
TASTE: Artificial watermelon syrup with notes of caramel and Bubble-Yum. A squirt of citrus to make it "electric!"
CONCLUSION: While arguably tasting like a liquored-up watermelon Slush Puppie, this bum wine collapsed under the weight of my own expectations. A bit of a disappointment considering it was 1st on my list to track down, still a passable entry into the wide Mad Dog catalog.


Oh Lord, the madness has begun again! That's right folks, the Bum Wine Odyssey has lurched into full swing and for the first new entry I didn't want to bore you with a re-trod of a product I've already swilled, so today we have a new flavor in the Mad Dog oeuvre: Electric Melon! This pink post-prom pregnancy probability enhancer was only introduced in 2009 so it's a relative newcomer to the MD 20/20 family. There is a similarly named product that's been out for a few years called Spiked Melon (Credit to ghettowine.com) but as you can see they are two completely different creatures. I have as yet been unable to find a sample of Spiked Melon, though my search has been ceaseless.

Now, the Bum Wine community is not as organized or close-knit as say PETA or the Tea Party movement, but we do have our places of refuge. One of those is bumwine.com and if you're looking for an establishment where you can procure fine-quality products such as Mad Dog or Cisco then you need look no further than the "Where to Buy" section. I live on the east coast of this big old country, specifically in Pennsylvania. Of the liquor stores listed I'm only within reasonable driving distance of two of them: Shop Stop Convenience Store in Hurlock, MD and The Hub in New Brunswick, NJ. I've had the *cough, cough* good fortune to patronize both of these fine establishments and although New Brunswick is the closer of the two cities it took me almost three years (after discovering bumwine.com) to get there. Almost a straight shot down Interstate 78, New Brunswick is home of Rutgers University. Upon arriving in the city I thought that The Hub was possibly the "campus" liquor store where all the great developing young minds of tomorrow purchase their booze. I was expecting something akin to a Wine & Spirits shop here in Pennsylvania with bright lights, orderly shelves and helpful attendants. Unfortunately I was met with your average, depressing, hole-in-the-wall dive with a line of huge coolers and two surly-looking employees shielded behind bulletproof glass who both doubted I was 25 despite my scraggly facial hair, paunch, and two forms of photo ID because I still had my passport in my coat pocket from my last trip to Canada.

I purchased several bottles of Night Train because it's incredibly hard to find as well as two bottles of my never-before-seen Electric Melon Mad Dog. This was also the first time I'd ever bought the smaller flask-sized 375ml bottles since for some reason The Hub didn't carry it in 750ml like the rest of their selection. I passed on the opportunity to pick up the newer Cranberry flavor, leaving it for another day, and also on the white variety of Wild Irish Rose which can be difficult to locate in Luzerne County, simply because I didn't feel safe in that store and wanted to leave quickly. I contemplated the smaller bottles on the drive home wondering if the comparatively small volume of booze would in any way affect my evaluation, but didn't give it overly too much thought because driving on I-78 is an exercise in mind-numbing stress without the added distraction of bum wine anticipation. Later that night after a good long chill I grabbed the first of two bottles and after that trademark twist-crack of the top I settled in for the first new experiment of this decade.

First of all I'll admit that my expectations were colored by the arguably drinkable nature of Mad Dog's Blue Raspberry (with "Bling, Bling" if you recall) variety. My mother was vacationing in Maryland earlier in the year and brought home two bottles of that chlorine-cloudy swill at my behest, so I was expecting more of the same only with watermelon "flavor" in place of the familiar blue raspberry. The first sip established Electric Melon as a member of the Mad Dog clan as it presented an immediate candy-sweet flavor followed by a really bad watermelon/citrus tang and topped off with that classic 20/20 thick, grape-tinged alcoholic chemical burn aftertaste. This stuff had a tendency to cling to the sides of my tongue which was extremely unpleasant as it kept releasing time-locked bursts of metallic-tangy horror at three-second intervals. A few more sips revealed a base of caramel flavor as well as the unmistakable taste of unsalted peanut shells. Seriously.

My main gripe with this experiment was the smaller flask-bottles. They are simply too thin and tiny to perform a proper evaluation and in the future I'm going to steer away from them. Because of their smaller size they tend to warm up in the hand quicker and after I drank one of them I found myself lacking the will to open the second and continue. Reaching the end of a bottle of bum wine, no matter the size, always feels like and achievement and though I'd only consumed half of my normal dosage where these experiments are concerned I still felt accomplished and content so I let the second bottle go for another day. I will mention that Electric Melon, like all versions of Mad Dog was very warming as it slugged its way down my throat to a stomach and liver that would not forgive me anytime soon. I'm not saying I'd substitute MD 20/20 for a snifter of brandy by the fire or anything, but if I ever found myself sleeping in an alley on a mound of trash with a newspaper blanket it would be my insulation of choice against the frigid winter chill and the world that did me no favors.

09 January 2010 @ 03:16 am
The Great Bum Wine Review Proudly Announces


It's been over a year since I made my last post on this wall, partly because I lost my thumb drive which held all my pictures and reviews; partly because I've been busy with commitments above and beyond my self-destructive urge to sample these fine-quality beverages. Therefore, it is with inappropriate exuberance and great anticipation that I announce my 2010 Bum Wine Odyssey!

What does such a boldface announcement involve, you ask? The task I have set for myself is no less than the ultimate collection of bum wine. I've gathered my information from websites and other sources (including phone calls to the offices of Mogen David) to assemble the list below: every currently produced flavor of the "five great" bum wines. It will be my quest, nay, my very purpose of being to assemble each of these products together in one place and once again present my findings to the masses...

MD 20/20
  • Banana Red
  • Blue Raspberry
  • Buck Bunny
  • Cranberry
  • Electric Melon
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Kiwi Lemon
  • Lemon Ice
  • Orange Jubilee
  • Peaches & Cream                   
  • Red Grape Wine
  • Spiked Melon
  • Sour Apple
  • Strawberry Cream
  • Strawberry Kiwi
  • Tangerine Dream
  • Purple Rain
  • Berry
  • Black Cherry
  • Blue Raspberry
  • Grape
  • Orange Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Green Apple
  • Red Wine
  • White Wine
  • Wild Fruit w/Ginseng
  • Wild Grape
  • Wild Green Apple
As I collect each specimen I will again be posting my reviews and comments about the unique experiences associated with each bum wine. Since it has been almost two years in many cases since I've sampled some of these delightful products I promise new, unbiased reviews and a revamped rating system that may actually take math into consideration! Expect new bottle shots, new interesting anecdotes, and maybe even some artistic photography of these iconic pillars to alcoholism posed in various run-down, urban environments.

I hope to begin my odyssey in February and would very much like to have it concluded before the summer so I'm not tempted in my vacation traveling to stop at every gas station and dive liquor store on the east coast to find that one last flavor that has been eluding me. As usual, I'll be sticking to the areas of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware in my efforts to track down my prey. Any and all tips, clues, or other useful information is welcome and feel free to comment.

Cheers, Prost, and Kampai to the 2010 Bum Wine Odyssey!!!
It's already begun to end.
Current Location: A Wet and Rainy City Street
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: Dave Dresher Quartet - Blown Sack
22 September 2008 @ 12:29 am
Make all the "Ventura Highway," Prince, and "Chocolate Rain" references you want, the fact of the matter is not even a catchy jingle is going to save this one ...

Manufacturer: Mogen David Inc., New York

Price: 3.79 / 750ml.

Alcohol Content: 13%

Found In: Frederick, MD


Presentation: 2/5 – More pink than purple. Could be disguised Vitamin Water.

Taste: 4/5 – Very decent. May have been a rejected Snapple experiment at one time.

Burn: 1/5 – Practically nonexistent; a very easy drink.

Buzz: 2.5/5 – Middle of the road. Definitely more of a “chick” bum wine.

Rarity: 4/5 – Only one out of four stores carrying MD in Frederick County had it.

Value: 3/5 – Fairly good taste (for cheap “fruit” wine), but not enough backbone.


I love a good challenge, but after I’d finally managed to track down Mad Dog’s famed Blue Raspberry (with added bling, bling!) I felt my quest was at an end. Lo and behold I saw Purple Rain up on the fabulous www.ghettowine.com website and knew where my next quarry lay. Not only did it present a truly remarkable color for any beverage, but there was no mention made of what it was supposed to taste like. Just what my bum wine odyssey called for!


Like I mentioned in a previous post, Frederick, Maryland is my one-stop-shop for bum wines close to the PA border. Unfortunately, after this trip I know exactly which wines they stock in Maryland and I may need to turn my attention to venues in Delaware and New Jersey to complete my collection. (For example, you can’t buy Grape Cisco in Maryland?) This second trip to my wine hub netted six new specimens and Purple Rain was among them. Needless to say, I was excited, probably too excited for something like this, but to each his own!


The label indicated that the Purple Rain flavor was meant to be “An exotic blend of raspberries and blackberries.” The picture on ghettowine.com showed the bottle as being a neon-bright, almost Sesame Street purple, but in real life it was a lighter pinkish-purple. The immediate thing that set me off was that it was definitely clear. Clear bum wines tend to suck, but I was willing to give my old friend MD the benefit of the doubt. It is, after all, my brand of choice when it comes to store-bought poison.


After proper chilling, I found this particular iteration of the ‘Dog was very Snapple-esque with lots of processed berry flavor on top of injection molded plastic. There were some faint traces of raspberry left over from the bling, bling mixed with what tasted like Smuckers jelly. I can’t help but wonder if Mad Dog is trying to imitate an alcoholic version of Gatorade Rain. Unfortunately I began this experiment in mid-summer when we had frequent guests at our house that could be considered “decent” folk. Therefore, we generally had to hide the bum wines and sneak in testing whenever possible. The Purple Rain therefore sat on the shelf for a few weeks before being given its official run-through.


Fast Forward to the Olympics …


Let’s face it: I’m never going to win an Olympic medal, but I can drink bum wine in celebration of Michael Phelps defending American freedom with 8 straight gold!


I settled in to the last round of swimming finals with my bottle of Purple Rain determined to use it in salutation to our boy Mike firmly stomping the competition in every event he competed in. After sitting in the fridge for so long, Purple rain lost any sort of Snapple subtleties and instead denatured into pure cough syrup. I hear bum wines compared to Robitussin on a fairly regular basis, but I can firmly say that Purple Rain tastes identical to that fabled medicine.


I tried to balance out the thick, antibiotic taste with a deep-freeze in our downstairs meat freezer which turned this garbage wine into a sugary gas station slushy gone wrong, but even that didn’t do much to muffle the powerful, throat-coating cough syrup presentation that this soured Mad Dog had to offer. Nevertheless, Phelps won his gold and I downed the bottle in celebration, more or less in one long chug. Afterwards I felt somewhat lightheaded, but that was immediately kicked out of the way by the rush of syrup and sulfites that drove me to a straight sugar high. There was no buzz to be had after downing this swill.


Add up all the fruitiness of this bum wine and standard drinkability (at least when it’s not left to sit for two weeks) and I think Purple Rain is aimed more at a female market. Aside from Boone’s Farm, this is about as close as a true bum wine comes to being a wine cooler.


Current Mood: sympatheticsympathetic
21 September 2008 @ 11:57 pm

I say, I say, you're doin' it all wrong, son! If'n ya wanna get a buzz on like a true Suth'en getleman, you gotta reach for the best!

Manufacturer: Mogen David Inc., New York

Price: 3.79 / 750ml.

Alcohol Content: 13%

Found In: Frederick, MD


Presentation: 2/5 – My brain can’t latch on to this strange honey color.

Taste: 5/5 – Tastes more or less like those gummy peach-ring candies.

Burn: 4/5 – Thick and nasty. Definitely needs a proper chill to handle evenly.

Buzz: 3.5/5 – Again, the heavy “cream” MD’s coat your system like 10W-40.

Rarity: 3/5 – I’ve seen it in Pennsylvania, but it’s elusive.

Value: 3/5 – Like a locust-infested Georgia peach farm, it’s not fun to explain.


This review kicks of the first of six brand-spankin’ new bum wine articles from my latest batch of brew heisted from south of the Mason-Dixon. We’ve got three new flavors of Mad Dog to get through and three new variations on Cisco as well. You’ll notice my photographer has changed and the new bum wine mug shots are a bit better quality than you might be used to. I apologize for the extra effort; we’ll get back on target soon.


Now, on to the business at hand:


If you’ve ever bitten too far into a peach, you’ll know that chipping your teeth off the impenetrable iron pit is one of the least pleasurable experiences in humanity’s few short generations of dominance on the planet. Fortunately, Mad Dog’s dreadfully thick Peaches ‘N Cream doesn’t contain any denture-shattering pits to dodge, but the total experience isn’t much of a step up, either.


Possibly due to economic stress, bum wine is becoming increasingly scarce in my home town. Where once I could stop by any one of the four liquor stores in the Hazleton area and get my fix of Orange Jubilee or Wild Irish Rose, now the shelves are bare! I’ve seen this flavor hiding out at the Wine & Spirits shop, but I only recently decided to grab a bottle while I was in Maryland. The color of this wine falls somewhere in the realm of pineapple juice and chicken stock. It’s a really wild off-gold color that this colorblind reporter (I was born that way, it’s not a side-effect of this lifestyle) can not process.


Color notwithstanding, I chilled this bottle immediately before the experiment. I’ve learned from past mistakes and all bum wines should be chilled, but especially ones with “cream” in the name. Upon cracking the seal I was met with penny-candy peach aroma interwoven with that classic Mad Dog dead liquor smell. After a few sips of this customer I noted two things:


  1. It was much, much too thick to handle in one sitting, and
  2. It tasted exactly like Trolli peach ring candies.

My grandmother goes ape shit for those candies, but I love her too much to subject her to this, no matter how many gin and tonics she pounds down at night.


Now, I’m no stranger to cutting alcohol with sodas and seltzer to even out the taste, but honestly I couldn’t think of anything I could mix this with that wouldn’t immediately turn my esophagus into a fire hose, spraying my misery all around the inside rim of the toilet bowl in a wailing symphony of distress. I only drank enough to reach the label and slung the rest in the back of the refrigerator to wait for day when I was feeling sorry for myself to finish it off.


That day came later that weekend when I decided to mope around the house all day in my robe and not do a god damned thing. It was probably a Saturday night and I was either watching a House rerun or playing Wii Tennis and I decided it would be a good idea to finish off the Peach. I started in on it around 10PM and finished it by 11. The taste hadn’t changed much after sitting in the fridge for a week, but I detected a distinct lack of alcohol despite the chemical burn experienced with every sip.


When I went to sleep that night I spent a good amount of time drifting feebly in and out of consciousness as clashing sulfites wreaked havoc on my internal clock. I was tired when I went to sleep and I didn’t feel restless or wired from all the sugar in the wine, but I just couldn’t get to sleep! I finally managed to crash around 3AM and was practically devastated when the alarm rang five hours later signaling the start of a painful day. I didn’t wake up with a hangover, but I was suffering from lack of sleep and the vague peach taste still lingered in my mouth reminding me of the tragic mistake I made the night before.


If it wasn’t for the problems I faced trying to sleep through my body’s valiant attempt to process the liquor, Peaches ‘N Cream may have a place on my side shelf in case of emergency. At the house we don’t even afford bum wines a place on the bottom shelf of our home bar. It’s like the family member we call on Christmas to wish goodwill, but the rest of the year we try to keep him away from the kids for fear of lecherous intent. We need to keep the bum wines separate from the real liquor.



Current Mood: nauseatednauseated
15 September 2008 @ 10:45 pm

Let's face it, gents, I didn't get to where I am today through determination and hard work. I just happened to be listening to a Lewis Black sketch about a man in New York who, at over 100 years of age, subsisted on a diet of "bread fried in fatback and three gallons of Thunderbird wine a week."  I'd never heard of a wine called Thunderbird before, but with a name like that it warranted further investigation. Lo and behold, Google and I stumbled upon the seedy underbelly of commercial liquor production in the form of so-called "bum wine."

I just feel it would be a disservice to continue posting review after review of these "drinks" without giving credit to two websites that educated me and made me laugh so hard that I bruised my ribs. Do yourself a favor and give these pages a visit. You'll be glad you did:
  • www.bumwine.com - Just like "Raiders of the Lost Ark", the original is always the best! This venerable website features informative articles on the five great bum wines as well as some field reports of more obscure entries like Buckfast and the utterly unapproachable Jeppson's Malort. Also features some great information about out-of-production bum wines, the article on Ripple being particularly hilarious. Go visit and get in touch with your inner bum!
  • www.ghettowine.com - As part of a larger network which includes websites devoted to 40oz's and bottom shelf liquor, ghettowine.com can be forgiven for being less in-depth than bumwine.com, but it makes up for it with the largest collection of different bum wines anywhere on the internet. So vast is their array of alcohol that it covers beyond the accepted five greats to include such entries as Johnny Bootlegger, Red Rooster / Lady 21, and something called After Dark. Their reviews are brief, but straight to the point. These guys are true legends.
There are some other excellent websites out there devoted to bum wine tasting parties and other fields of study, but these two are the pillars of the community. To them I raise my brown-bag-shrouded bottle and drink deeply to their success!

Current Location: Latitude 88 North
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Val Hodgens - Mona (Dimestore Hooker with a Heart of Gold)
11 September 2008 @ 12:12 pm
Top 'o the mornin' to ye, lads! Old Mr. Richard's come up with a new flavor for us today. Not even the sturdiest drunken Irishman would reach for this swill ...

Manufacturer: Centerra Wine Co.  Canandaigua, New York

Price: $3.59 / 750ml.

Alcohol Content: 18%

Found In: Wilkes-Barre, PA


Presentation: 3/5 – Dark purplish color similar to grape soda or melted crayons.

Taste: 3.5/5 – Tangier than straight grape wine; stings slightly.

Burn: 4/5 – Grape tends to rape your throat.

Buzz: 4.5/5 – Passing a bottle with some friends resulted in a very fine pick-me-up.

Rarity: 2/5 – Somewhat more difficult to find than standard Red Wild I.

Value: 3.5/5 – A practical, well-rounded bum wine with moderate stopping power.


Wild Irish Rose was pretty low on my list of bum wines to try out for reasons mentioned in my review of the Red variety. According to the Centerra Company's website, Wild I has a history of being the most popular (by cases sold) “fruit wine” in the country. It currently ships about 2 million cases annually spread over five different "flavors." Of course, anyone who has tried Wild I knows that its sales are based solely off of ABV% and not the delightful fruit tastes it fails at recreating. So, when I discovered that there was a Wild Grape variety of America’s top-selling bum wine, I trucked it a half an hour up the road to Wilkes-Barre (about 2/3 of a ghetto, in my opinion) where I was informed by one of my associates at Kings College that I could find a bottle of this particular hooch.


I snagged a bottle of Wild Grape which was sitting next to the terribly unattractive White Label variety of Wild I which I resolved to attempt another day. The color through the bottle reminded me of grape flavored cough syrup or a bowl of unsettled grape Jell-O. (I’m sure Bill Cosby has had his hands on a couple bottles of Wild I in his day.) At the check out an older gentleman with snuff stains in his mustache gave me a pretty dirty look and shook his head when I presented him with my latest acquisition. While he checked me out he attempted to hold a high-toned discussion about various liquors with my associate Nate who was buying a slightly less embarrassing bottle of Bacardi 151.


I didn’t have time to properly chill this bottle of Wild I before the experiment so I’m sure the experience was slightly lopsided. I actually shared this bottle with my group of friends at a Penn State house party and I had finished off about a third of a bottle of Blue Raspberry Mad Dog beforehand. The first warm sip practically stung my mouth like I’d just bitten into a wasp nest. It had a lot of strong, up-front alcohol punch, but this characteristic of Wild Irish Rose to begin with. After the initial blow, the sweet, tangy taste of grape Jolly Ranchers seeped in. This stuff was tart, thick, and ran like medicine. I immediately regretted not icing down the bottle first, but soldiered on in spite of my faux pas.


Between five of us it took about ten minutes to polish off the bottle after which everyone reported a strong, well-maintained sense of superiority over all of God’s creation. Make no mistake; Wild I will inebriate you on the quick. Mad Dog and Cisco both have a tendency to make you drowsy, but Wild I definitely stands up there with Thunderbird for providing a solid buzz. I do have to report that out of all the bum wines I've tried so far, Wild Grape is the only one that made me seriously hungry. I practically had to restrain myself from eating the phone book while we ordered in our pizza.

It tastes like the cough syrup your mom used to spoon-feed you, it provides a strong buzz, and it costs about the same for a whole bottle as one mixed drink at your average bar. Add it all up and it’s obvious why this is “America’s #1 Fruit Wine.”

Current Mood: indifferentindifferent
11 September 2008 @ 11:53 am
Ed. Just a word before we begin: I've been busy trying to do some real life things like getting a degree so I can buy liquor more expensive than $5 dollars a bottle. Anyway, we've got a slew of new bum wines to review, but I'm posting the last couple hold-outs from the original batch. Be on the lookout for new posts in the next couple days. Prost!

Manufacturer: Centerra Wine Co.  Canandaigua, New York

Price: $3.29 / 750ml.

Alcohol Content: 18%

Found In: Frederick, MD


Presentation: 3/5 – Nearly identical in color to Blue Raspberry Jolt.

Taste: 2.5/5 – Much, much fouler than the similarly flavored Mad Dog. Too tangy.

Burn: 4/5 – A very harsh drink to be sure. My nickname: Blue Razorberry.

Buzz: 3/5 – Much less of an up-front face-smasher than other Cisco’s.

Rarity: 5/5 – Found along with Orange at a shady liquor store in Maryland.

Value: 2/5 – Too many mediocre scores leaves this one in the dust.


Now, I’m no expert, but I've heard news reports that kids in Texas are drinking some kind of street drug called "lean" which is made of hydrochloride cough syrup, codeine, and soda. I get the feeling these kids probably tried Cisco first and thought they could do better on their own ...

Anyway, while on my stupendous trip to Maryland I decided to snag a few bottles of Cisco and it was a hard sell between this and Black Cherry. I almost went the latter route because I had already secured several samples of MD’s Blue Raspberry variety with copious amounts of bling bling. Of course, I knew Mad Dog wouldn’t let me down, but Cisco (already the perpetrator of several drunken wretch-fests) would most likely end up tasting like its trademark Fruity-Pebbles-inspired, hollow, disgruntled self.


Nevertheless, I let the Black Cherry go for another trip and grabbed up a bottle of this dark blue after-market medication. Before I give my admittedly biased review, let me post for everyone’s pleasure, the actual sales pitch for Cisco listed on the Centerra Wine Company’s website. Most of my past posts have noted that Cisco was produced by the Canandaigua Wine Company out of New York, but apparently that company was either bought out or merged with several others to create this new one. Centerra is an umbrella company that encompasses not only Cisco, but also Wild Irish Rose, Arbor Mist, and some "real" liquors like VSOP Brandy and some higher end wines. You can visit their website at www.cwine.com.


“Cisco is a Beverage Dessert wine for people who like a strong, great-tasting sweet wine at an affordable price.”


I just thought the rest of the world should know that the perpetrators of Cisco are either truly delusional, or their marketing staff is detached from reality. I have yet to taste a sample from this brand that falls in the category of acceptable, let alone "great." Anyway, I chilled this bottle straight away and gave it a good chug later in the night. The taste was more in the ballpark of true, sour raspberries whereas Mad Dog leaned towards 8-year-old sugar-fix Slush Puppy syrup raspberries. The holdover pseudo-carbonation in Cisco made it taste a little bit like Blue Jolt, but without any of the added benefits of an energy drink. This customer was definitely tougher to swallow than Mad Dog’s engagement.


I will report that this is the only Cisco I’ve tried to date that has actually gotten better the longer I’ve suffered with it. Berry & Strawberry were just too awful to sit through and Orange was somewhat relieved by a shaking gimmick, but the more I drank of the Blue Raspberry Cisco the better it became. It’s like sucking on a Jolly Rancher for a very long time. Eventually it just rips up your tongue and numbs your entire mouth to the point where you don’t remember how bad it is.


Nevertheless, kudos to an all-around pointless bum wine!

Current Location: The Library
Current Mood: blankblank
22 June 2008 @ 11:49 pm
Let's go, Joe!

Frederick, Maryland is the closest place to me where I can find quality bum wines and my usual outlet is a place called DJ Liquors. Two days ago I was with my fellow enthusiast J.P. who needed to shop at the nearby Mr. Coral for some new fish tank stuff and I took a stroll across the street to the aforementioned liquor store to restock my supply.

Lo and behold, like the universe issuing me a challenge, DJ Liquors was closed on a Friday afternoon. Upon closer inspection I found a note hastily scrawled with "Closed for Emergency!"  Upon closer, closer inspection I found the cause was a court summons from Frederick County because DJ Liquors apparently doesn't like to pay its rent. Two months of overdue lease will shut down event the sturdiest of establishments.

So, heading slightly further down the road we found another, slightly less shady-looking shop run by a large black man named Curtis who was keeping a very close eye on three loud Pennsylvania kids who were far more enthusiastic than they should have been at the prospect of picking up six new bottles of bum wine to review:

  • MD 20/20 Peaches 'N Cream
  • MD 20/20 Lemon Ice
  • MD 20/20 Purple Rain
  • Cisco Black Cherry
  • Cisco Peach
  • Cisco Green Apple
Now that's not all we acquired on this trip. We stopped at what can best be described as a convenience store close to the Maryland / Pennsylvania border called Gateway Market, Candyland, and Liquors. Inside we were assisted by the friendliest people I've ever met. All the customers were very curteous and one old lady caressed J.P.'s love handles for a little while. These people were unnaturally helpful and I'm pretty sure they may have been vampires.

That aside, the woman at the counter pulled out a phonebook-thick directory of all the liquor available for sale in Maryland. We found a new flavor of Mad Dog that we didn't know even existed called, I think, Cosmic Cranberry. We also discovered that even though Night Train is listed in the book, it does not have a distributor attached to it so it continues to elude us.

The quest continues ...

Current Location: Bummelpetrus
Current Mood: touchedtouched
Current Music: Chris "Bruiser" Burkley - Nadine the Sex Machine
16 May 2008 @ 02:59 pm
 What looks like Rain-X and tastes just as good? You guessed it: Orange Cisco!

Manufacturer: Canandaigua Wine Co., New York

Price: $3.29 / 750ml.

Alcohol Content: 18%

Found In: Frederick, MD


Presentation: 3/5 – Looks pretty much like any orange soda out there.

Taste: 3/5 – So far it’s the best Cisco I’ve tried, possibly because of a gimmick (below).

Burn: 2/5 – Not quite as harsh as the last two in this family that I sampled.

Buzz: 5/5 – Completely murdered all of my senses in a very short time.

Rarity: 5/5 – Found in a real dive liquor store in Frederick, MD.

Value: 3.5/5 – Today I discovered why they call it “liquid crack”


I apparently just can't take enough abuse to learn when I'm wrong. Now, there have been studies done in “real” scientific work that attempt to explain why people do dumb things. Okay, so maybe there haven’t been any studies. Anyway, it seems like there should be a study done. If you’ve been keeping up to date on my bum wine odyssey, you’ll know that my last two run-ins with Cisco were nothing short of appalling. This brand of bum wine is aimed solely at people who can no longer taste anything and for whatever reason still feel the need to buy flavored liquor.


So, when I was in Maryland I spied a cooler full of bum wines and picked up a flavor of Cisco that I was still somewhat interested in trying; after all, how can you screw up orange? When I got the bottle home I chilled it for a while before twisting off the cap with a generous amount of force. For some reason Cisco is really bottled tightly, probably to keep whatever biological weapon the liquor is laced with from dissipating into the atmosphere. My first few sips were, as predicted, completely horrifying. The first taste is of nothing at all, just empty, rotten alcohol, followed by a chaser of what seemed like orange soda that had gone flat months ago. Figuring that I’d just punished myself (again) for no reason, I shoved the bottle back in the fridge and moved on to more experiments.


Fast-forward two days.


I opened the fridge and saw the bottle of Orange sitting there like the proverbial lump of coal in my Christmas stocking and suddenly I got an idea: shake the bottle. Cisco has a very slight carbonation component to it and for whatever reason I thought maybe that was contributing to how horrible it tasted. So, I grabbed it and shook the hell out of it for a few seconds. I braved another sip and was completely relieved to find that it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been a day or two before. I don’t know if it was just my frame of mind at the time or a placebo effect from shaking the bottle, but I managed to down this Cisco in about an hour’s time and suddenly … chaos.


Cisco’s old motto (Takes you by surprise!) hit me like an abusive uncle. I was utterly wrecked by this stuff and I couldn’t think of anything else but where my next bottle of Cisco was going to come from. I drank this early in the day and in the evening when the last licks of the lasting buzz finally wore off I experienced the most horrendous come-down in alcohol history. I felt like a building had fallen on me in the middle of the desert. Every muscle hurt and I was so dehydrated I was acutally considering calling an ambulance. When I finally managed to fall asleep around 10PM I was shaking and jittery and didn't sleep much at all. The next morning I decided it would be best to skip class and spent another six or seven hours in misery before the Cisco finally worked itself fully out of my system.

My personal malaise aside, this is by far the most tolerable iteration of liquid crack on the market from the stock that I've tasted. I don't know how Black Cherry or Grape will fare in that regard, but if you're stuck in a pinch and want a quick throw-down to get yourself perked up, this might be the Cisco to reach for. I'd sooner reach for rat poison, but hey, to each his own.

Current Mood: complacentcomplacent