Loaded like a fright train
May 24, 2013 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Nowadays, fortified wines are the butt of jokes. (previously) However, there was a time when they were considered mainstream and there were even a few commercials made. Of course, we can't leave out the best commercial for fortified wine ever made.
posted by josher71 (69 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh man, I am so naive. I used to think that fortified wine meant that it had vitamins added. I won't even tell you why I thought they did that.
posted by DU at 9:11 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Like beer, you serve Ripple ice cold. But with Ripple, you can pick a flavor: Red, or white."
posted by mudpuppie at 9:11 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was confused by this because I think of fortified wines as something high-end, and Wikipedia backs me up.

What this FPP is referring to they seem to categorise as Flavored Fortified Wine.
posted by vacapinta at 9:13 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think "fortified wine" by itself is the right catch-all term for these things. Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouth etc. are all fortified wines and not in any way the "butt of jokes."
posted by yoink at 9:14 AM on May 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Port and Sherry are fortified and a traditional meeting the the vicar/after dinner drink.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on May 24, 2013


Sherry is a fortified wine and that's the wine hipster jam of the year.
posted by JPD at 9:15 AM on May 24, 2013


Wait Sherry is hip now? I guess since we're all raiding grandma's closet for things a sweet drink that gives you a respectable buzz is fair game.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on May 24, 2013


real sherry also isn't sweet. (or most real sherry)
posted by JPD at 9:17 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The mods are welcome to change what they deem necessary. To me, fortified wine is always used to discuss low end wines and not sherries, etc... I would not ask for a "fortified wine" in a restaurant but that's probably just cultural.
posted by josher71 at 9:17 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


One personal rule of thumb that has stood me well is that I never drink alcoholic beverages given to me by strangers who stumble out from behind a tree while I'm having a picnic with my wife.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:17 AM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I work for a wine distributor. When someone says "fortified wine" around here, we're talking the yuck stuff. And the reason is that it is by an immense margin the largest seller in that category of fortified wine. It outsells almost all of our regular, good wines as well. It's crazy.

Also: Richards Wild Irish Rose is about to introduce a Moscato. Hold me.
posted by something something at 9:18 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I regularly enjoy an icy cold bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape. I love it. Maybe not as lousy as some of the wines listed above, but certainly a few steps away from 'fine' wine. YUM.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:19 AM on May 24, 2013


Where's the Cisco commercial? Come on! That Boone's commercial is beyond disturbing.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:19 AM on May 24, 2013


Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouth etc. are all fortified wines and not in any way the "butt of jokes."

Any port in a storm, Madeir.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues when I was 16 or so, which introduced me both to Tom Robbins and to Red Ripple.

The very idea of sweet fortified wine, though, brings up a little taste of bile and the early tremors of a Sunday-ruining hangover. The James Mason ad for Thunderbird is just mind-blowing.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2013


Obligatory Bumwine post---if you haven't read the reviews, you haven't lived.
posted by resurrexit at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


That second Ripple commercial is hilarious. "I know it's not beer... but it's normal to drink this! Ordinary conformists afraid of standing out, just like you, can drink it from a beer stein! If you don't like beer, but want to get wasted like all of your beer drinking friends, drink Ripple. It's NORMAL."
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, that Wild Irish Rose commercial was disturbing.
posted by dortmunder at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Port is fortified, and I am a port maniac.

That being said, the subject under discussion here is hobo wine. I wrote an article on the subject a while back, reproduced here. Some quotes:

The American wine industry, which had enjoyed some inchoate success prior to Prohibition, was decimated in the 14 years that the United States was Constitutionally dry. In truth, this industry didn't earnestly begin to recover until the 1960s. After Prohibition, Americans had developed a taste for hard liquor, and those few remaining wine-lovers who wanted a truly fine wine looked abroad, mostly to France, for their fix. American wines, out of necessity, were fermented grape slurries or fortified ports, their only redeeming featuring being their cheap price. Their market was migrant laborers, street corner drunks, and skid row bottle gangs. Wine drinkers in America were disparagingly called winos, and were, to a great extent, poor and chronically inebriated. Fortified wine had one additional benefit for the chronically broke: It kills your appetite, which comes in handy when you have just enough for a sandwich or a drink. Fortified wines, by the way, are magnificently intoxicating, as the fortification comes from the addition of brandy. A standard bottle of wine usually clocks in at about 13 percent alcohol by volume. Thunderbird is a whopping 17.5 percent.

If all this leads you to believe that Gallo, and other American wine manufacturers, were making their profits by selling unusually potent potables to America's underclass – well, you'd be exactly right. Ellen Hawkes wrote about the marketing techniques for Thunderbird in her book Blood and Wine: The Unauthorized Story of the Gallo Wine Empire, claiming that Thunderbird salesmen specifically targeted inner-city and alcoholic purchasers. "According to Fenderson's account, he and his staff 'arranged for street-sampling and Thunderbird parties in colored bars wherever we could,'" Hawkes wrote. "Gallo salesmen recalled that 'street-sampling' was perfected for Thunderbird in the ghetto. Bottles of Thunderbird were left on the backseats of salesmen's cars or were handed out in the neighborhood -- the idea was to give away free samples and saturate the market. Empty bottles of Thunderbird were thrown in the gutters of skid row streets to increase product awareness …"

It must be noted that Hawkes' book has received its share of criticism, and some of her claims must be taken with a grain of salt, although Hawkes is responsible for one of the more divertingly notorious tales of Ernest Gallo. She tells of him driving through the streets of the inner-city, eventually pulling up to a stranger on a street corner. According to Hawkes, Gallo called out the lyrics to one of his jingles "What's the word?" As the tale would have it, the man immediately called back the correct answer: "Thunderbird!"

Hawkes' tale is partially corroborated by at least one online source, a former Gallo salesman who recalled handing the drink out to Native Americans who were just being released from jail -- "to get the brand started." "Wino Samplings," as this former employee calls the practice of passing out free samples to hard drinkers, "used to be widespread."

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


we can't leave out the best commercial for fortified wine ever made.

*Lightbulb*
posted by MartinWisse at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]



Well, that Wild Irish Rose commercial was disturbing.


Easily my favorite of the bunch.
posted by josher71 at 9:24 AM on May 24, 2013


"It's the wine that winks back at you."

I guess I understand what that means, but in know way understand why that would ever be a selling point. Winking at all, let alone in response to my winking is not something I want any consumable to do.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:24 AM on May 24, 2013


"I used to play with Bird and Trane..."

"No shit?"

"Yeah, Thunderbird and Night Train..."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


That second Ripple ad sounds like a pitch you'd hear on Mad Men "It's not Beer, but it's in the same ballpark!"
posted by mathowie at 9:26 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Champipple.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:27 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would not ask for a "fortified wine" in a restaurant

Well, no: but then you wouldn't order a "wine" either; at the very least you'd say "red wine" or "white wine." You're not going to be indifferent as to whether they bring you port, a sherry or a vermouth. But if you look up "fortified wines" in any decent book on wine, you'll find a discussion of port, sherry, vermouth, madeira etc.
posted by yoink at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mocking of the beverages aside, the people in these commercials seem a lot more like people I'd want to hang out with than the assholes in alcohol commercials today.

Though I'm pretty sure, if my memory of college serves me well, that the sweet old lady who comes out from behind a tree and offers you Boone's Farm is actually an evil witch trying to ruin your life in disguise Snow-White-style, motorcycle or not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:30 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Wild Irish Rose one - it's reassuring that their selling point has apparently always been "yeah, it'll get you fucked up."
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:31 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


real sherry also isn't sweet. (or most real sherry)

Totally depends on what kind you get. Maybe your area is better, but we're sort of deprived for selection where I am. You can get a fino or a cream sherry pretty easily but I've never seen an oloroso or amontillado. I visited a bodega in Spain, and they had something like 30 brands of sherry, hitting a wide range from dry to sweet.

We brought back some amontillado, which I keep in our basement.
posted by LionIndex at 9:43 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Along with Montressor.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by notsnot at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


That being said, the subject under discussion here is hobo wine.

Or "bored underage midwestern high schoolers sitting on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night somewhere in the mid-80s" wine.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shhh!
posted by LionIndex at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2013


Well, no: but then you wouldn't order a "wine" either; at the very least you'd say "red wine" or "white wine." You're not going to be indifferent as to whether they bring you port, a sherry or a vermouth. But if you look up "fortified wines" in any decent book on wine, you'll find a discussion of port, sherry, vermouth, madeira etc.

My point is that I thought that to most everyone "fortified wine" does not conjure up images of port but rather of Night Train and that seems to be backed up by something something.
posted by josher71 at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2013


When I was 17 I'd moved out of my parents house and into a pretty sketchy living situation. In an effort to prove to my mother that I could take care of myself, I invited her over for dinner one evening.

My mom wasn't much on cooking, so I really had no idea what I was doing if it wasn't something that came out of a box, but I wanted to impress. I'd found a recipe for beef bourguignon that seemed easy enough and before I knew it, I was cooking! But then I got to the part where I needed to add the wine. I didn't have any wine, and couldn't buy any.

But - my roommate did have a bottle of MD 20/20 in the fridge.

Here we are later in life, and I've become a fairly competent cook. I've learned that you can substitute some things for others and it's perfectly fine. But under no circumstances whatsoever should someone replace red wine with Mad Dog. 13 years later and countless recipes mastered, my mother still insists we dine out when eating together.
posted by sephira at 9:48 AM on May 24, 2013 [31 favorites]


That's the best story of youthful idiocy with Mad Dog I've ever heard. And a lot of them exist.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:54 AM on May 24, 2013


Along with Montressor.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on May 24
[1 favorite +] [!]


Oh, for the love of God.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or "bored underage midwestern high schoolers sitting on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night somewhere in the mid-80s" wine.

Or Southwest teenagers in flannel shirts standing out in the middle of the desert around a bonfire in the mid 80’s, before they developed taste for the hard stuff and the grocery stores started selling generic booze. See also; Eegees and 151.
posted by bongo_x at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouth etc. are all fortified wines and not in any way the "butt of jokes."

Many are even sold in butts.
posted by bonehead at 10:10 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the word? Thunderbird!
What's the price? Fifty twice!

Ahem. I've tried most of these. If you can handle flavored malt liquor, you can hack the bumwine. Except for Cisco, I had that once. Scary shit.
posted by jonmc at 10:14 AM on May 24, 2013


Songs about cheap wine? You bet!

WPLJ (White Port & Lemon Juice) by the 4 Deuces

Thunderbird ESQ by the Gories
and the best, most insane disco song ever: Riunite on Ice (followup: Riunite Goes Nice
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, brings back memories of East Dunbartonshire: track-suited 12 year olds all fucked up on buckie (15% abv, more caffeine than Red Bull) firing slingshots and bottle rockets at you as you cycled by on the opposite side of the canal. If they'd been slightly less munted, I might not have been here to write this. Good times.
posted by scruss at 10:39 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never saw the fortified wine ads, but the Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull was my favorite.
posted by emjaybee at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2013




What's that? Your Thunderbird is undrinkable, even at just above freezing? No problem!
posted by gimli at 11:22 AM on May 24, 2013


This thread needs some help from notorious 1980s Minneapolis noisemakers:

Halo of Flies - MD 20/20
posted by porn in the woods at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2013


In that first link, I'm pleased to see Mad Dog first on the list. That is indeed where it belongs.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2013


A much better commercial for Wild Irish Rose:

"Damn, you really can taste the alcohol in this shit.

Fuck Night Train. Fuck Thunderbird and that bullshit MD.

You wanna get fucked up? Get yourself some of this shit."

Ahem. I've tried most of these. If you can handle flavored malt liquor, you can hack the bumwine. Except for Cisco, I had that once. Scary shit.

I think the secret ingredient in Cisco is Robitussin DM. No joke.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:36 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why isn't there an amazing trap song about 4Loko yet? You missed a step Decade of the 00s.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


yoink: "I don't think "fortified wine" by itself is the right catch-all term for these things. Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouth etc. are all fortified wines and not in any way the "butt of jokes.""

Indeed, a butt of port will do nicely.
posted by chavenet at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2013


Oh bonehead. On preview. Too late.
posted by chavenet at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2013


Ctrl-f "buckfast"

0 results.

Disappointed!
posted by thewalrus at 11:51 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sherry is flippin' delicious. A cold glass of fino on a Summer's night is as refreshing as beer. And Pedro Ximénez is a crazy-delicious sweet Spanish sherry that tastes like raisins, golden syrup and happiness.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 12:14 PM on May 24, 2013


Fortified wines, either of the hobo or the traditional varieties, are carefully engineered to have the right alcohol content for the fastest possible absorption into the bloodstream. They work faster than ordinary wine, beer or spirits. (There was a case recently of a woman who got her partner habitually drunk by sherry enema, due to his throat cancer - she overdid it one time and killed him...)
posted by Devonian at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2013


Ctrl-f "buckfast"
0 results.
Disappointed!


Ctrl-f "breakfast"

0 results.

Disappointed!
posted by bongo_x at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2013


James Mason sounds like he is doing a Ronald Chevalier impression.
posted by ian1977 at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2013


Gallo Pink Chablis - oh yes, I had some fancy dates in my youth.

This one apparently never quite caught on: Welch's Family Wine.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2013


Smuckers Puckers: With a name like Smuckers, it has to make you blind.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:48 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall a "Cisco Challenge" from my college years. The original concept was similar to Edward Fortyhands (duct tape a 40oz of Old E or Hurricane to both hands, and you couldn't free yourself until it was empty). If you set down your bottle of Cisco, people would pour their Cisco into your bottle until you realized your error, and picked it up. This had the negative consequence of flavor mixing (as if it wasn't bad enough already), but it increased the amount you had to drink to finish your bottle: the other part of the Cisco challenge was, when one person finished their Cisco, everyone else had to slam whatever remained in their bottle.

As the challenge in its purest form consisted of socializing and alternatively moderating and increasing your consumption to have the delicate balance of not drinking too much in a short amount of time to be first, but also preventing yourself from having to drink too much if you aren't first. Plus, if you set it down and didn't notice until it was too late, you were about to have a bad night.

We did this every few weeks with varying degrees of enjoyment, but the worst hangovers one can imagine. The last time we did this, one of my friends' GF from another school had joined us, and got so shitcanned, she threw up in the floor register seconds after using the bottle inappropriately and shouting "almost the label! Almost the label!"

Cisco and she were never seen at our parties, again. One was banned, we couldn't bear to look at the other the same way.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like pointing out similar "enriched" sake. Some people (like me) are proponents of Junmai (no added alcohol) but there are other types with alcohol added. Apparently Honjozo uses a little alcohol to flush out flavors from the fermented rice, but is claimed to have no more alcohol than typical Junmai. Then there is the really heavily fortified stuff, I don't know if it has a name but my friends always called it "yasuzaki" (literally: the cheap stuff).
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2013


One more song about fortified wine.
posted by gteffertz at 3:53 PM on May 24, 2013


Can you buy a four litre goon of port in the US? Because it's just the thing to pass a hot summer afternoon in Australia. I like to alternate with Fruity Lexia as a palate cleanser. A few Jatz, some cubes of Coon, some cabanossi, and we got class comin' out our arse.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:19 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coming from the universe of non-drinkers, I remember the first time I heard the Thunderbird jingle ("What's the word? Thunderbird!") was in a MST3K episode, revealed through Google to be The Unearthly. It has a way of sticking out in the memory.

("C'mon, can't we just get beyond Thunderbird?")
posted by JHarris at 6:31 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I lived in a neighboorhood that had banned the sale of fortified wine. Seriously. Pioneer Square claims to be the etymology of skid row (even if wrong, if it wants to lay tot he claim, then good on it, or whatever).

This did not of course stop problem drinking by the homeless in my neighborhood. No one was more sober because of this. What it did mean is that I could no longer buy my 15$ bottles of port (which I find about 12$ is the lowest you can go and get a bottle that's drinkable), something I used to be able to buy, the homeless never bought, and was now against the law. For about a square mile. (this was the mid-90's, hopefully sanity has prevailed).
posted by el io at 10:40 PM on May 24, 2013


JHarris, I was just rewatchung " The Incredibaly Strange Creatures awhile Stopped living..." and right at the start a slarlet is downing a glass of booze and the bits say " C'mon Boone Hill, work your magic!" and because of this post I was able to give a very Steve Rogers " I understood that reference!"
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 AM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I...helped someone with my post? *Josher 71 wept*
posted by josher71 at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2013


> What's the price? Fifty twice!

Inflation is a scary thing. It used to be "Thirty twice." (Also: What's the jive? Bird's alive.)
posted by languagehat at 11:19 AM on May 25, 2013



These're the cheap wine adverts I remember -- I don't see 'em above:

Boone's Farm Apple: Featuring Harcourt Fenton 'Harry' Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) as General Boone of the Apple Corps. Seems like there were others in the series.

Wild Irish Rose: A dixieland band, featuring [who knows?] as Rose herself (presumably) on bass, plays 'Everybody Knows Wild Irish Rose'.

Original Night Train (1951) by Jimmy Forrest
posted by Herodios at 2:26 PM on May 25, 2013


My Dad was an alcoholic, and he drank Wild Irish Rose on the regular when I was a kid. When we moved back to his home country, he moved up (or is it down?) to Seco Herrerano (I think that's moving up for regular people, but moving down for alcoholics.) He used to have little bottles of that stuff all over the house, and we would all pretend we didn't see them...living with my Dad was funny like that.

Growing up in Panama, the drinking age was 18, so we got an early start compared to all the kids living stateside. And when we used to go to the club on Ft. Clayton, we always used to stop at the shoppette and grab a bottle (or two) of Boone's Farm strawberry. 2-4 people would share that, right outside the club in the parking lot, and then we didn't have to buy any drinks at the club...what a bargain! We got in free at the club too (my friends Dad was the manager), so double savings!!!

Ahh, cheap liquor. So many memories...
posted by KillaSeal at 5:48 PM on May 25, 2013


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