Click here to send in your own Weird Soda Review!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vignette Chardonnay

Chardonnay? What the heck are we doing reviewing a chardonnay? Are we now to be a Weird Wine Review Lab?
Fear not; this is the first of the acquisitions from Galco's which we shall quaff. While wandering the hallowed aisles, eyes wide, heart open, tears of joy quivering on the ends of my eyelashes, I laid eyes on what I at first thought was wine which had been mislaid in the soda section. To my lasting delight, I discovered that it was, in fact, a Weird Soda which was based on wine. Could anything be more representative of California? Splendid indeed.

This one, from the Vignette brand (subtitled "Wine Country Soda"), is supposed to be soda flavored with varietal grape juice. They are non-alcoholic, and--interestingly--have no added sugar or corn syrup. The only sweetener is the grape juice, which in this case is from chardonnay grapes.
Weird indeed.

In addition, we have some visiting reviewers here in the Lab-at-Large. A talented musician and soda quaffer, Long Rod McBean (as he shall be called in the Lab) has just returned from a practice session with his band and is eager for some Weirdness. Punctilius made us dinner tonight, and certainly earned her place as a Tasting Technician this evening.

Where and when
: purchased 4/11/09 at Galco's, Los Angeles
Color: pale gold. A bit lighter than most ginger ales, and even most chardonnays. More like a blanc.
Bouquet (formerly known as Scent): not very strong--certainly not as strong as most wine. Faint scent of grape juice
NOTE: regrettably, we were unable to assess its "legs", as plastic cups seem to be more hydrophobic than glass, and this doesn't have any alcohol. I can confirm, however, that we did not touch the bottle to the side of the cup while pouring.
Long Rod: "Smells champagne-y."
Punctilius: "No it doesn't."
Taste: We'll start with the commentary from the visiting Technicians and the Kibbitzer-in-Chief.
Punctilius: "Apple juice."
Long Rod: "It's not chardonnay. It's more bitter than apple juice, and drier."
Punctilius: "Your first sip is sparkling apple juice."
Kibbitzer-in-Chief: "So is the second".
Long Rod: "Tastes like quinine water."
Punctilius: "No it doesn't. It's more like diluted sparkling apple juice."
Long Rod: "Nuh-uh."
Punctilius: "With the slightest touch of pee."
K-i-C: "Now if it was cat pee undertones, that would mean it was a Sauvignon Blanc."
Long Rod: "Tastes like club soda with a touch of apple juice."
This produces general consensus.

The Lab staff and visitors are quite correct. The taste is much more apple juice than grape, and nothing at all like Chardonnay. It's much like very weak apple juice--sort of like the ice from ice cubes made from apple juice in failed attempts at juice popsicles--but carbonated. It's barely there. There's something odd--a faint "breadiness" to it. This really doesn't taste like chardonnay at all--or just the slightest bit, at the edges, somewhere between initial taste and aftertaste. It's not very sweet.
Long Rod and Punctilius agree that there is an odd aftertaste, with bitter and chalky tones. I can taste it too, but I don't think I'd call it chalky--to me, it's more a hint of sour. It does linger a bit.
Long Rod: "Needs more cowbell."
Punctilius: "Needs more elephant ringing."
Long Rod: "What the heck does that mean?"
This leads into a long discussion which doesn't make any sense at all, but ends with Long Rod describing something so unutterably disgusting which he saw on TV that I cannot reproduce it here; it involves drinking something extracted from elephant poop.
Oddly, this is not an uncommon outcome in conversations between Long Rod and Punctilius.

Long Rod: "It's not that bad. I just said he squeezed the juice out of the elephant poop. And drank it."
To me, that's still unutterably disgusting. Apparently, this is from Man Vs. Wild. What really frightens me is that if I were to find Elephant Poop Soda, I would feel compelled to quaff it.
Punctilius: "He loves to torture me with that."
Long Rod: "No I don't."

The Kibbitzer-in-Chief reminds me that we do, in fact, have elephant poop note cards; the paper is made from recycled elephant poop. This leads to a discussion of whether the note cards are what is left after squeezing out the "poop juice".
I re-check the bottle: no, it really doesn't contain alcohol.

Long Rod: "You know, in India, they have soda made from cow urine."
All right, readers. I accept this challenge. If anyone can find a sample of Indian Cow Urine soda and send it to me, I will drink it. I will post video.

BONUS: That might actually taste like "warm cow piss squeezed through a dirty sock".

Quaff rating: 3. Reasonably pleasant, but not interesting. You can't get drunk from it; that's kind of a pro and a con.
Cough rating: 0.5. Could be worse; could be cow urine.


  1. Man. I just finished a 20-minute google search trying to find any online or mail order purveyor of cow urine soda to have delivered to you. Price would have been no object!

    Sadly, it seems to exist thus far only as a promised/threatened product from India's largest Hindi nationalist group. More specifically, the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and if that's not a great name for a soda purveyor I don't know what is. For future reference, the drink is called gau jal, which translates to "cow water". Story here.

    But I promise you this Quaffmaster. If they even only ever produce a single bottle, I will go to the ends of the earth to put it in front of you.

  2. And if the Hindis don't get their act together, I will buy a cow and bottle the stuff myself, so help me God.

  3. On that day, I will stand proudly before a camera and quaff that Cow Urine Soda from the Cow Protection Department, and make my own humble contribution to the annals of Weird Soda.

    And possibly to the toilet shortly afterwards. But it will be worth it!


Creative Commons License
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.