Wine coolers: otherwise known as malt beverages since authentic wine coolers (i.e. cheap wine and fruit juice to cover it up) essentially went extinct in the 90’s when taxes on wine were increased, save Bartles & Jaymes. At one time considered to be purely froufrou, these refreshing drinks have been increasing in popularity and variety of late. There is, of course, the most obvious kind; the fruity, sugary, refreshing on a hot summer’s day kind that spans all sorts of different brands and flavors, from Mike’s hard lemonade to Cayman Jack margaritas. They’re basically sodas that give you DUIs instead of cavities (they give you cavities too though). Then there’s the rising star of the world of wine coolers: hard seltzer. You might have seen a commercial about these featuring Keegan-Michael Key from Key and Peele, and to answer your question: yes they are delicious. Truly and White Claw are the big brands right now, however, there are smaller brands popping up all over, and even big commercial brands like Budweiser and Natural Light are trying to get in on the seltzer action too. While the latter two I mentioned sounds terrible, I can tell you first hand that (holy moly) those seltzers are pretty dang good. If you want something fruity and refreshing but every time you drink a Smirnoff Ice your teeth hurt from all the sugar, you have to get in on seltzers. They aren’t too sugary – just enough to compliment the fruity flavor, and still just as fizzy and refreshing. Anywho, long story short: there’s a lot of friggin’ wine coolers to choose from. If they look interesting to you and you’re thinking about giving them a try, here’s a little guide to aid you in the wonderful world of wine coolers!
1. Truly hard seltzer
These seltzer wine coolers are Truly scrum-dilly. Plus I have to start with these since I’ve been on a bit of a Truly-kick lately. At one point only having a few variations, it now comes in a cacophony of different flavors – wild berry, blueberry acai, raspberry lime, black cherry, plain lime, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, lemon, mango, passion fruit, watermelon kiwi, and rose(e’) – and don’t even get me started on those tasty-ass hard seltzer lemonades! After trying all the flavors, here are the results: they’re all delicious! It’s really a matter of personal preference at this point. That said, I’d have to say that my least favorite among them was the watermelon kiwi. I think it tasted a bit like grass to be completely honest.
2. Truly hard seltzer with lemonade
Damn it you got me started on the hard seltzer and lemonade! I can’t help myself though… it’s so delectably delicious that it deserves its own separate category! It kicks up the sugar level quite a bit, yet it’s not nearly as overpowering as say, OG Mike’s hard lemonade for example. You can really taste that lemon though, especially in the original variation. That said, there are numerous variations of this, including black cherry lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and mango lemonade (my personal favorite), all of which kick up the sugar level one more slight notch – making these the sweetest of the Truly family. It truly redefines hard seltzer wine coolers. It is also my personal favorite, and I hope you like it too!
3. White Claw
White Claw: indeed a favorite among white girls, as all the memes of late imply, but don’t let it’s social media infamy deter you from trying it! It’s well-liked for a reason – it’s refreshing, yet like with Truly, not overpoweringly sugary. However, to contrast them from the Truly hard seltzers, they are ever so slightly more crisp, whereas one might say that Truly is a bit more beer-like and heavy. From this, it would make sense that White Claws might seem more appealing to the more dainty of palates, but I assure you that it’s delicious no matter who you are.
4. Upslope Snowmelt
A surprising taste from my own home state, I was a bit taken aback by these hard seltzer wine coolers. They come from a brewing company in Boulder Colorado, and as it goes with many Colorado brewers, they specialize in India pale ales, which is why I was so astounded by the fact that they actually churned out a pretty decent hard seltzer. It’s not terribly sweet, it’s refreshing, and yet it has a slight stiffness that you’d expect from a strong beer like an IPA. If that’s your thing, then Snowmelt might be worth a try.
5. Bon & Viv spiked seltzer
A recent favorite of mine, Bon & Viv spiked seltzer is a wine cooler among wine coolers. Its taste is crisp and light; beautiful and elegant, just as the twin mermaids on the label suggest. They have numerous tasty flavors – I personally have tried the grapefruit and clementine hibiscus, both of which are completely and utterly amazing. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend that you do.
6. Crook & Marker Spiked and Sparkling
Here’s something a little different for our list of wine coolers: Crook & Marker. It’s a hard seltzer from West Palm Beach that’s made with unique, gluten-free ancient grains and tropical roots. It’s a bit on the sweet side as far as hard seltzers are concerned, but it’s pretty tasty and definitely worth a try. The strawberry lemon and coconut-pineapple flavors are particularly sweet so keep that in mind.
7. Smirnoff Ice
So begins our movement away from hard seltzers and into the fruitylicious world of basic malt beverages, the original descendant of traditional wine coolers. Furthermore, what better drink to start us off than a personal favorite, Smirnoff Ice? While it is sweet as hell, of course, it is not overpoweringly so relative to other malt beverages. Its taste is more light, and it goes down crisp and refreshing. I’ve had the pleasure of trying a number of flavors, including grape, green apple, peach bellini, margarita, mango, pineapple, and watermelon mimosa. The Smirnoff Ice Smashes are also quite tasty.
8. Mike’s Hard
This has always been a bit of a tough one for me personally as far as wine coolers go. Mike’s Hard, lemonade or otherwise, is a malt beverage that is perfect for the discerning sweet tooth – as in it’s so sweet that it makes my teeth hurt when I drink it. What’s more, there are so many flavors that I’m not even going to begin trying to list them off – I’ll leave that to your personal taste (and which ones are available at whichever liquor store you frequent). That said there is a new flavor that I may have accidentally fallen in love with: apricot lemonade. Holy moly is that one tasty malt lemonade! It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tang that makes it insanely delicious. Sadly it’s only out for a limited time, but maybe it’ll stick around a bit longer and come back around soon.
9. Cayman Jack
A classic and a goodie on our list of wine coolers, Cayman Jack is simple yet elegant. It only comes in two flavors: margarita and mojito, and what more flavors need there be? They’re zesty, sweet and tasty, and more importantly, you need them in your life ASAP.
10. Seagram Escapes
Turns out, Seagrams isn’t exactly known for producing high-quality alcohol. When it comes to wine coolers, however, suffice it to say that they may well have found their calling. Their Seagram Escapes are surprisingly delicious malt beverages that won’t break your wallet either. I tried the sangria flavor, which as the name implies is very sangria-ish and wine-like – so good if you like sangria. I also tried the “Jamaican Me Happy,” which is indeed very happy and tropical, the guava and watermelon shining through particularly well, making it one pretty tasty addition to our list of wine coolers.
11. Jack Daniels Country Cocktails
Jack Daniels is getting in on the wine coolers game too – because why the hell not? They have a whole slew of flavors, including Georgia Peach (which was apparently made in collaboration with R&B singer K. Michelle), as well as everything from Lynchburg Lemonade to Downhome Punch, and even Black Jack Cola. These wine coolers are a little on the sweet side, but the lemonade and the punch have a nice tang that balances it relatively well. Definitely worth a try if you like the sweeter side of life.
12. Corona Refresca
The finale on our list of wine coolers: Corona Refresca! It’s a new wine cooler brought to you by the same place that makes the classic Coronas that everyone knows and loves (sometimes). They’re all tropical flavors with a twist of lime, as is Corona’s schtick, and more importantly, they’re all sweet, sparkling and perfect for a hot summer’s day (or a mild summer’s eve if you prefer). It only comes in three flavors thus far, so you won’t have to rack your brain about which one you want to try first: passionfruit lime, coconut lime, and guava lime. Again, I must emphasize that these wine coolers are super sweet, so if you’ve got a sweet tooth and a mood for something tropical, then look no further than this malt beverage right here!