There are occasions on which you have to watch the old alcohol intake, and for many of us, soft drinks are simply too sweet and cloying, whether on their own or – certainly – with a meal. A white wine with a bit of a whack in its flavour, diluted with sparkling water and served over ice, is a pleasant, crisp refreshing drink.
And then, I discovered an entire section in my supermarket dedicated to premixed drinks in cans – including this Echo Falls spritzer. Handy, or what? Well, as it turns out – what?
The real benefit of pre-mixed drinks surely lies in cocktails which require a dash of this, or a touch of that. This – and, if it comes to it, that – being an ingredient of which you never drink enough to justify purchasing an entire bottle.
But a spritzer is hardly a creation for which you need one of those chaps calling themselves a “mixologist”, the qualifications for which seem to involve a crippling weight of pretension and a haircut like Nick Grimshaw. A spritzer only has two ingredients – wine and water – and surely if you possess sufficient intelligence and energy to raise a glass to your lips, you could be arsed to mix those together?
It seems not. According to a chap from a rival canned spritzer, Tres Spritzy, who I met at the London International Wine Fair, it is the ready-mixed aspect which is the big selling point. They are designed to be “handy”, a term which is rapidly becoming a modern euphemism for “a bit crap”.
(It had been suggested to me that it might be the portability of the can which is key here, and that people might want to take it to events like festivals. Unfortunately, a lot of events actually ban cans, on the strong likelihood that you might want to “port” a missile at someone.)
It’s clear where this can’s target market lies, given the fact that it declares its calorie content per serving on the front, in significantly larger type than the alcohol level. Like most men, I neither know nor wish to know the calories in a drink. They fall into that category of figures surrounding drinks, including units of alcohol and cost, an ignorance of which is bliss.
And I’m sorry to say this, but the can also looks disturbingly like a feminine deodorant. This is a confusion I could imagine leading to unpleasant results for a lady, the lesser of which would be a mouthful of Femfresh.
In case you think I’m jumping to conclusions, look at the Echo Falls website, where it’s clear that the entire brand is aimed at women. I mean yes, I’ve had what their home page describes as “unscripted moments”, and only one of them involved a subsequent visit to the dry cleaners.
But if I imagine “a chance meeting with a mate”, I don’t, as a bloke, envisage it “turning into a giggly night of girlie reminiscing.” Not with Big Richard from Stamford Bridge. There is a clear if unstated assumption that drinkers of Echo Falls will be women. Well, more Falls them.
The first surprise is that this spritzer is pink. An expert might know that White Zinfandel is, in fact, a rosé wine– the purchaser of a supermarket spritz in a can will probably not. No-one to whom I have shown the can, stating “Spritz with White Zinfandel”, expected a pink drink.
The second surprise is the level of effervescence; not the gentle spritz of a mineral water, nor the “sparkle” described on the can, but rather the more explosive quality of a Coca-Cola. This does nothing positive for the drink, although it might lift the aforementioned missile qualities up to weapons-grade.
Finally, there is the flavour. CJ once had the misfortune to drink White Zinfandel and legendarily declared that it made his teeth squirm. And this is not just a violently effervescent, cloyingly sweet White Zinfandel – oh, no. It is an “aromatised wine product cocktail” (sic); its bubblegum flavour has actually been somehow boosted. Until we have it: a spritzer, whose major attraction for adults is that it can replace sickly sweet fizzy drinks, engineered to replicate… a sickly sweet fizzy drink.
Still, at least it’s “handy”.