The second instalment of, “why do sommeliers think this is so funny?” is…
Andre Cold Duck!
This one took some real searching to find. The illusive bottle was finally unearthed at the Smart and Final off of the Central Freeway in San Francisco for under 4 dollars. Boy was I excited. I was anticipating something like a sparkling Shiraz when I was told it was a red wine with bubbles. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated what came to be a cross between grape Fanta, Cranberry Juice Cocktail, and one of those “Champagnes” that you need to swallow Advil with in order to circumvent the inevitable immediate headache. The syrupy sweet elixir wasn’t even worth a second glass.
But what is Cold Duck? The dredges of spit buckets with a heavy dossage?
Here are some snippets from Wikipedia: Cold Duck is the name of a sparkling wine made in the United States that was at one stage the best-selling “champagne” in America.The wine was invented by Harold Borgman, the owner of Pontchartrain Wine Cellars in Detroit, in 1937. The recipe was based on a traditional German custom of mixing all the dregs of unfinished wine bottles with champagne.Baskin-Robbins had an ice cream called Cold Duck Ice in the 1970s. The cultural trivia section explains almost all you ever need to know about Cold Duck’s place in society. Meanwhile…
This mixture was called kalte ende (“cold end”); over the years, ende transliterated to ente (“duck”). The wines used to make cold duck are often of inferior quality. The resulting potation is quite sweet with few other distinguishable characteristics.–Copyright (c) 1995 by Barron’s Educational Series, from The New Food Lover’s Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst
In doing research for this article I came across other obscure wines that may warrent some type of further investigation. Apparently I missed a lot in wine in the years prior to 1980 such as: Ripple (?) Bali Hai (?) Thunderbird (?) Matues (?) Spanada (?)
Until those treasures are found Retsina is next on the list. I leave you with my favorite thing about Cold Duck: