Red Wine & Diet Coke
I was going to write about books all last month, but instead I went to holiday parties, watched “very special” Christmas episodes on TV, and ate my weight in sugar cookies. Then, I was going to write a blog entry every day in the New Year until I caught up with my Book Report list, but that plan stalled out when I started watching Netflix Instant Queue.
But now, two days into SNOMG 2011, I find myself with some extra time on my hands. I cleaned out my closet, read a couple of books, tried to make my dog frolic (she refused), and made muffins.
The natural conclusion to my day would be challenging my neighbors to a wii bowling tournament or working on The Novel. Instead, I’m experimenting with red wine and Diet Coke.
It started this weekend at the last dinner out before the skies opened and buried the warm-blooded city in treacherous ice. We noshed on buttery melt-in-your-mouth steak and crusty rolls and collectively went through 3 bottles of red win. Some where during the second bottle, the girl sitting next to me eyed her half empty glass and said, “You know, red wine and Diet Coke is, like, a Thing.”
We all scoffed at the notion- defile red wine with a carbonated soda? Sacrilege! Taint the chemical goodness of Diet Coke with a flavor other than cherry, vanilla, or lemon (or maybe sometimes rum)? Foolish! We got a good laugh and returned to our discussion of exactly how long we would all be out of work this week (so far, 2-3 days depending on your employer).
But later, alone in my condo with only my thoughts and my dog for company, I eyed a half empty bottle of red wine nearing the point of undrinkability and a tiny voice asked, “Why not?” I mean, Diet Coke? Good! Red wine? Good! But then again, I love peanut butter and I love guacamole, but I would never eat them together on a sandwich.
And so, as any good scientist, I turned to the evidence.
Since I am no longer in college, I can use Wikipedia as a source. As it turns out, Diet Coke and red wine is a Thing. Allegedly, the drink has its roots in the Basque region where it is is known as a, “Kalimotoxo.” Since a very small population speaks Basque, everyone else calls it, “Calimocho.” It has other names in other countries– I have two favorites: 1) the Chilean Spanish call it “jote” which means, “Black Vulture,” presumably a play on the scavenging of a dying wine; and 2) the Yugoslav Republicans call is “musolini” after the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. I assume this is some kind of insult.
The legend of the marriage of Diet Coke and red wine goes like this: a bar tender at some Basque festival started to pour some red wine and realized the bottle was less on the red wine side and more on the vinegar side. He needed to think of some way to save the wine because heaven forbid we pour out a spoiled bottle or combine it with other questionable wines to create Charles Shaw. In the end, he grabbed a bottle of soda thinking that it might cut the sour wine. The rest is (little known) history. Just last Saturday, I heard a caller on NPR’s Splendid Table ask for advice on using three day old red wine in a useful way. I bet Lynne Rosesetto Kasper doesn’t know about this magic drink or we would all be reading foodie blogs about which red wine to use for best results.
If you need any more convincing, look no further than Twitter user @NfinityVB:
Two exclamation points and questions marks?!?! Why hasn’t Anderson Cooper broken this story? For that matter, where’s Oprah? Why aren’t they bottling this stuff and selling it at Kroger? They’re selling Chocovino, so it’s not like they’re adverse to mash-ups.
And so here I am, alone in my condo for two days. I’ve got a six pack of Diet Coke, a half empty bottle of Syrah, increasing boredom with The Office Season 4, and a gnawing curiosity about the Black Vulture that grows stronger with each passing hour. It comes down to this: I need to know.
I did things right: I broke out a measuring cup to ensure a perfect 50/50 composition; I used one of the special occasion wine glasses that my sister told me to use only when I have company because they require hand washing; I even swirled the glass like I know what that might tell me about the wine. Surprisingly, the Black Vulture coated the sides of the glasses just as the plain Syrah did two nights ago.
Then– a deep breath. A swallow. A pause. And…
After all this buildup, I suppose you are expecting either a scathing criticism decrying the waste of perfectly good Diet Coke or an ecstatic exclamation filled with teeny abbreviations expressing my unadulterated enthusiasm.
In the end, it’s okay. It’s not disgusting– it’s like cherry coke that tastes a little funny. It goes down pretty smooth and doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste. I would drink it again, probably when I have another half bottle of wine that needs tending. Mostly, I just feel kind of like I’m a teenager trying to pass off my mixed drink for a soda in front of my parents. Since the drink originated in an attempt to disguise some lame wine, I’m betting most modern day fans use it for the same reason. Think of it like a better tasting but less effective Red Bull and vodka.