My friends and I often joke that much of the wine lining supermarket shelves is not actually wine, but instead a wine-like drink of industrial-chemical origins, not unlike that aerosol cheese sold in America.
All joking aside, “wine-like drink” is an often useful descriptor for blasphemies like Echo Falls, Yellowtail and Blossom Hill, much as their makers might argue otherwise.
I didn’t think the Australians would go out and up the ante by actually launching a product that boasts this very fact. But then again the Aussies have never really be known for their subtlety, so perhaps they should be applauded for being brash enough to come up with something called Vinni.
With the phrase “wine based refreshment” printed in large letters across its label, there is no doubting that this is a) not trying to fool anyone into believing it is a proper wine and b) going to taste awful.
It first appeared in shops in October 2012 and has been positioned to compete with beer and cider and, they say, attract a younger audience to wine drinks.
I’m not so sure they’ll achieve this. First, think for a moment what this ‘younger audience’ is actually like when it comes to their preferred alcoholic drinks. On any UK high street on any given Friday night and you will see Vinni’s target market in action; for the most part their preferences are based on the ease with which the drink goes down their gullet and how cheaply this can be achieved.
The people who conjured up this concoction were likely hoping to capture that young, festival-going crowd that relaxes in the park on a sunny day with a few drinks in hand, but the actual group that might find Vinni appealing are the types who drink abominations like WKD because it is sweet and laden with booze.
Except there is a problem. Vinni is not only awful (more on this later) but also fairly expensive for what it is. It costs £3.66 a bottle from Tesco.
So while Vinni might have been born out of good intentions – of drawing more people to wine and away from alcopops and cheap beer – in order for it to be successful it ought to at least taste like it might be made from wine and be good value for money.
Except it doesn’t. There I was on New Years’ Eve, getting ready to head to a house party when the idea popped into my head that I should try this drink. After several sniffs and a few sips, I couldn’t pick up any hint of wine except for a vaguely sweet and faint grape aroma, although it did give me an unsettled stomach.
This doesn’t surprise me. A few years ago it became fashionable to drink cider over ice in a pint glass – think Magners or Bulmers – because it was refreshing and easy to guzzle at times when all you wanted was something cold, wet and full of alcohol. Unlike more serious ciders, it was light and fruity. Perfect, then, for people who like the idea of drinking cider but don’t actually like the way it tastes.
Vinni achieves the same thing, it seems, by promising to be, as the label says, “fresh & fruity”.
It was because of those two words I felt a swell of embarrassment consume when I bought this drink from my local Tesco outlet. In order to avoid looking silly in the event I bumped into someone I knew, I didn’t put it in my basket until the moment before I made a dash for the cashier. I was safe from that point on, but I’m convinced the security guard gave me a knowing smirk.
And why wouldn’t ge? Here was a 30-something man buying a drink that no adult should ever drink, one that tastes sweet and only vaguely grapey, bearing almost no resemblance to wine or any other serious alcoholic beverage.
There are many things I’d rather have experienced than drink Vinni. If fact I’d rather have had
a bottle of Mateus Rosé my throat slit and my mouth concreted in, as my friend Trev recommended.
To put the price of Vinni into perspective, it’s possible to pay £2 or less for a bottle of good real ale that is bound to offer infinitely more enjoyment. But, then again, no one who drinks real ale is likely to buy something like Vinni unless they a) picked up the wrong bottle by accident or b) thought it might be worth blogging about.