Have the French gone crazy? Following close on the heels of Winestar's French wine in a can — and not just plonk, but vintage red, white and rosé from such prestigious appellations as Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley — a French producer is introducing cola-flavored wine.
Hausmann Famille, a branch of the firm Châteaux en Bordeaux, has introduced Rouge Sucette, a red wine doused with cola flavor targeted for a younger audience.
In France, sad to say wine drinking has plummeted in recent years, particularly among the young, who are more attracted to beer and spirits. A BBC story by Hugh Schofield from Paris explains: "Recent figures merely confirm what has been observed for years, that the number of regular drinkers of wine in France is in freefall." He wrote that in 1980, "more than half of adults were consuming wine on a near-daily basis. Today that figure has fallen to 17%. Meanwhile, the proportion of French people who never drink wine at all has doubled to 38%."
But will a starter wine flavored with cola and playing to a younger generation's sweet tooth lead to an interest in learning about — and appreciating — their wine heritage?
Rouge Sucette — "Red Lollipop" — is cheaper than wine. A bottle will cost just under $4 in France and will be sold primarily in hypermarchés (huge supermarkets). How many Red Lollipop drinkers will graduate to something more sophisticated is not yet known.
But I have to say the logic seems flawed. Why not go with your best shot — maybe a pretty little Côtes-du-Rhône or Languedoc rouge at an affordable price? Or how about rosé as a starter wine?
Now I can't say for sure what Rouge Sucette tastes like. According to Victoria Moore writing in the British newspaper The Telegraph, it's "75% wine with the balance sugar, water and cola flavouring."
I can't quite wrap my head around red wine plus cola, though I do see the point of rum and cola. In this case, I'll take my wine straight and my cola straight. The alcohol is just 9%, so for those seeking a buzz, this is wine light.
Moore points out that the French have already embraced flavored wines, such as grapefruit-flavored rosé or passion-fruit-flavored whites. In fact, in France, she says, "they drank 15 million bottles of flavored wine last year and that figure is expected to double in 2013."
And we thought White Zinfandel was bad.