"There was a lake, a lake of wine in California, in 1981," Bewley recalls. “Every single [storage] tank in the state was full.”
Jordan Salcito, the creator of Ramona (“wine, but cooler,” is its tagline) has impeccable oenophile credentials. She has worked as a sommelier at NYC’s tony Eleven Madison Park, been the wine and beverage director at Momofuku, put in time in vineyards in Burgundy and Tuscany. She remembers chugging a cooler in high school—“it was the first time I saw Pulp Fiction,” she recalls of the night—but the real inspiration for Ramona was an Aperol spritz that she drank after a disastrous, sweaty harvest in Montalcino. She wanted to make that experience of an “oasis of delight” widely available, in ready-to-drink cans.Ramona—yes, named after Beverly Cleary’s indomitable heroine—is kind of the Hegelian synthesis of lowbrow day-drinking hooch and highbrow cocktail culture. It goes down easy like pilfered white zinfandel at a teenage house party, but with a pithy bitterness and a sour-acid grapefruit kick; it’s made with organic Zibibbo grapes from Sicily. Salcito recently signed a deal with Whole Foods, which will begin carrying Ramona in its stores this summer.The flavors of today’s bougie wine coolers tend toward the herbal, botanical, and bittersweet, catnip for the sophisticated, discerning palate. These wine coolers may not have that much in common, taste-wise, with the syrupy tropical citrus, peach, and wildberry flavored coolers of yore. But they share a similar sensibility with their precursors—a commitment to a good time, a refusal to take anything too seriously, an allegiance to chill.History repeats itself. In this weird recap of the 1980s that we’re living through—demented Republican president, rising economic inequality, Cold War-style tensions, the looming possibility of nuclear armageddon—is it any surprise that wine coolers are back? Wine coolers celebrate the irreverent mixture; the lazy, afternoon buzz; the unapologetically femme.All hail their second coming.
In this weird recap of the 1980s that we’re living through—demented Republican president, rising economic inequality, Cold War-style tensions, the looming possibility of nuclear armageddon—is it any surprise that wine coolers are back?