Pale Lager
Origin: Holland
Alcohol: 5%
Calories: Who Cares?

Okay, let's make this short and sweet.  

You're probably asking why I'm reviewing Heineken when the majority of drinks I review are either new and/or random. Well, Heineken holds a special place in my heart for being both incredibly refreshing and incredibly bad at the same time.  I can never tell how it's going to hit my taste buds.  Sometimes I drink a nice, ice cold Heineken and it's perfectly thirst-quenching.  Other times I drink a Heineken and think, "What the Hell is this skunky shit?!"  Pardon my French and stuff... it's just how I feel.  When I drink a Heineken I either love it or hate it, there is no in between.  I really don't get it.  It's the only drink I've had that's like that, and believe me, I've had a lot of different drinks.

So, to describe Heineken we have the usual macro-beer suspects: it pours a clear, light straw color with an inch or so thick head that stays for a fair bit of time.  Granted, many of you probably just drink it straight from the bottle.  Fair enough, it's not like pouring Heineken into a glass is going to enhance it that much.  This isn't some fancy craft beer brewed with the resin of the single mummified hop found in Pharaoh Tittychewbacca's tomb, where the hidden flavor molecules are important... this is Heineken.  It smells like skunky, sweet malts and generic grain, like so many macro lager beers, especially those that come in green bottles (*Nerd Fact: Light changes the flavor of alcoholic beverages over time, faster in light green and clear bottles than brown).  Heineken tastes a lot how you'd expect: sweet, creamy malts, the usual pale lager airiness, and a skunky and sour bit of mild, grassy hops.

As far as macro lager beer goes, this isn't that bad.  I'd take this any day over Bud Light, Coors, or Miller.  However, it's still dreadfully boring.   But like I said earlier, sometimes it is surprisingly crisp and refreshing, other times the skunkiness is too much to handle.

Drink This: if you've never tried it.  One of the better macro beers, but still lacking compared to just about any craft beer.  But at least it comes in those little mini kegs.
Don't Drink This: if you're looking for something with depth and interesting flavor.  Go look elsewhere.  This is more of a session beer or a beer for hot weather.  Like I've said a couple times, I'm always really torn on Heineken... love it or hate it.



Fire Water Cinnamon Schnapps

Fire Water
Hot Cinnamon Schnapps
White Rock Distilleries
50% Alcohol (100 Proof)

Ahh memories...

There was a time when I was younger where I was known for bringing Firewater to parties.  
Pretty much every party.  
All the time.  
It was my cheap booze of choice (before I knew any better).  Nothing seems to liven up a party like people daring one another to take shots of Firewater.  This stuff is known for burning, not just from the 100 Proof alcohol content, but also from the intense hot cinnamon flavor.  It really does warm you from the inside which seems perfect on a snowy, freezing night when you're outside for whatever reason.  Which remind me of a story...

There was this girl I was dating that I took to the drive-in movies with a few of my friends.  The usual drive-in antics ensued.  The thing is, it was seriously cold that night and the girl kept saying she was "freeeeezzzzing!"  So, of course, being the gentleman I am, I offered her a swig of my Firewater straight from the bottle, explaining that it would warm her up.  And I was serious, I wasn't just trying to get her drunk...  She declined initially, but then changed her mind when she realized it may actually work.  She tries it and almost coughs on the intense cinnamon and alcohol, then reports that it actually worked and she is feeling warmer.  This continues throughout the course of the two movies, with her drinking the bulk of the bottle straight, which was probably not the best idea, but at least she did feel warmer.  On the way taking her back home, I had to pull over so she could puke, which sucked for both of us, but was better than her puking in my car.  But to make a long story short, Firewater kept her feeling toasty warm... and we eventually got married and had kids...  The moral of the story is that drinking Firewater may lead to marriage and/or having kids, in no particular order.  
True story.

Firewater, itself, pours a thick, viscous, red color and smells of strong cinnamon and raw alcohol.  You take a sip (most likely a shot, actually) and get bombarded with corn-syrupy sweetness, spicy cinnamon across your tongue, cinnamon smells clearing your sinuses, and harsh, astringent alcohol flavors, but a pleasant warming sensation that you can feel slowly oozing down your throat and into your gut.  This warming feeling lasts for quite some time in the pit of your stomach, different from any other booze I've tried, which is really quite interesting, all things considered.  I'm sure it could be used in a cocktail somehow, but the only thing I've ever mixed it with is hot apple cider. 

This liquor is harsh, hot, overly sweet, yet pleasantly warming.  I rarely drink it anymore, but it certainly still has potential to liven up a party or make you feel warm on a cold evening! 

Drink This: if you want an over-the-top, hot cinnamon schnapps to liven things up.
Don't Drink This: if you're looking for something classy.   This ain't that.



Rex Goliath Free Range Red

Rex Goliath
Free Range Red
Wine Blend
Origin: California
Vintage: ?
Alcohol: 13.85%

Yes, yes, I'm pretty sure my glass in this photo contains about half that bottle of wine.  Not ideal for swirling and smelling, but good for drinking.  Hey, I'm only human.  And it's an extremely cheap bottle of wine anyway...

I've seen the Rex Goliath wines on the store shelves all over the place and I've always wondered what the heck was up with the rooster on the label?  Well, according to the winery, Rex Goliath was a giant 47 pound rooster that was part of a Texas circus act, and the label is based on the circus banner that advertised this giant bird.  So why do they use the rooster as the basis for their winery?  Hell if I know.  Their winery isn't even in Texas, it's in California.  I don't get it.  Oh well, not everything in the world has to make sense.  Regardless, having a big rooster on your label does make it stand out from the horde of beige wine labels on the shelves, even if it's not in a classy way. 

Rex Goliath is a California-based winery that makes, well, cheap, budget wines.  They're known primarily for their budget Cabernet Sauvignon, but now, I'm looking at their Free Range Red.  This wine is reportedly a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah, although exact percentages are unknown.  There is no vintage on this blend, so I'm betting the winemaker just tries to make it taste the same every year, which depending on the years' weather and yields, could be a tricky feat.

Rex Goliath Free Range Red pours a deep, brick red.  It smells primarily of strawberries, with a bit of raspberry.  You take a sip and get exactly what you'd expect, more fruity, sweet strawberries and raspberries.  Tannins and any oak are pretty much non-existent here.  The finish is short and simple, as is, well, the entire experience of drinking this wine.  Now I'm not saying it's bad, I've certainly had worse cheap red wines and there are no off-flavors, but it's just a bit boring.  Okay, really boring.  Really boring, simple, and straightforward.  That being said, it is as the label describes it, "sweet and juicy."

Drink This: if you like your red wines super cheap, sweet, and easy-drinking... which I know a lot of people do.
Don't Drink This: if you want a red wine with depth, oak, or tannins.  This has none of these things.  You could do much worse for a budget wine, but I'd rather pay an extra couple of dollars and get something with a bit more flavor.  I believe this was only $4...



Espuela del Gaucho Malbec Reserve

Espuela del Gaucho
Malbec Reserve
Vintage: 2010
Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Alcohol: 13.5%
Yesterday, I reviewed the regular bottling of the 2010 Espuela del Gaucho Malbec.  But this bad boy, this is the Reserve (Limited Edition) bottle of the same year.  

Now the term "Reserve" on a wine can mean many things, and is really only regulated in a few European countries that have strict aging protocols to apply the term.  But in general, "Reserve" wines are merely wines the winemaker thinks are of better quality, whether it's from better quality grapes, grapes from a certain plot of land (terroir), or a wine that has simply been aged longer prior to bottling.  I'm not sure which is the case with the Espueal del Gaucho Malbec Reserve, but I agree, it certainly is better than the standard bottle.

The 2010 Espuela del Gaucho Malbec Reserve pours a dark, deep plum color and much like the standard bottle, smells of black raspberries, vague spiciness, and a bit of oak.  On tasting is where it distinguishes itself from the standard bottle with dry plums, black raspberry, a distinct woodiness, nutmeg, cloves, and an earthiness that tastes a bit like cocoa powder and leather, followed by a sharper, acidic finish.  The tannins are moderate, and more present than in the standard bottle.  This wine is big, bold, earthy, dry and rustic.  

Like many earthy wines, it could be quite the turnoff to some wine drinkers.  But for lovers of Malbec, this is a very good wine, verging on great...

Drink This: if you like 'em big, earthy and rustic. 
Don't Drink This: if your wine of choice is Pink Zinfandel.  This is about as far from that as you can get. 



Espuela del Gaucho Malbec

Espuela del Gaucho
Vintage: 2010
Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Alcohol: 12.5%

Ahhh yes, another Malbec to review.  This time, it's the 2010 Vintage Espuela del Gaucho Malbec, which is of course, out of the Mendoza Province of Argentina.  The Malbecs coming out of Argentina have continued surging in popularity, despite the recent trend of people shifting toward drinking sweet red and pink wines.  I think the allure of the Argentinian Malbecs are the value.  The middle shelf Malbecs are running only $8-15 a bottle, which makes many of them a great bargain.  But, I digress. 

So, what's a gaucho?  Well, it's essentially a term used for the South American equivalent of a cowboy, or cattleman, something which is a big part of the Argentinian culture.  I assume the winemakers were trying to capture some of that lifestyle and vibe into this wine.  When I got this bottle, I expected a rustic, dark berried wine... and that's exactly what I got.

The 2010 Espuela del Gaucho Malbec pours a deep plum purple.  It has aromas of black raspberries with some nondescript spice and a bit of oak.  It initially tastes of juicy plums and raspberries, with some Christmas-type spice, followed by a fairly strong bit of toasted oak and earthiness (think cumin).  This is juicy, yet spicy, yet pretty damn earthy.  All in all, it's what I enjoy in a Malbec, a fruit-forward, earthy, rustic red wine.  Granted, I could see this being a very polarizing wine for many people.  This isn't a silky smooth, refined French wine.  This is rustic and raw Argentinian Malbec.

Drink This: if you want a rustic, earthy taste of Malbec.  This isn't my favorite Malbec, or even in my top 5, but it's good and pretty characteristic of what I think a Malbec from South America should be.  I'd buy it again.
Don't Drink This: if you're looking for a refined, balanced red wine, this will just turn you off. 



Fish Eye Sweet Red Wine

Fish Eye Sweet Red 
Alcohol: 13.5%

Recently it seems that many of the hip, young wine drinkers have been rebelling against the dry, oaky red wines of the last generation and been shifting their focus toward sweet red and pink wines.  I was at a wine festival recently where this was most evident by the number of people enjoying regular and pink Moscato and the sweeter Merlots and such, something which I found astonishing!  Who drinks pink wine and sweet reds?!  Well, apparently lots of people now.  It's the new in thing to do.  I also saw an article in Wine Prospector a month or so ago where the hip hop artist Drake reported to drink massive amounts of Moscato.  Not only was I surprised that Drake drinks Moscato, but I was surprised that Wine Prospector would feature Drake.  It made my brain hurt for many reasons.

Anyway, Fish Eye Winery has released a new sweet red wine, hoping to follow these wine trends, which is simply called Fish Eye Sweet Red. No beating around the bush with that kind of name.  Fish Eye Winery is out of South East Australia and is known for making quite a few varietals.  For their Sweet Red, they start with a Shiraz base and blend it with Moscato and other sweet wines.

Fish Eye Sweet Red pours a dark, cherry red.  It smells of sweet strawberries and raspberries.  This carries over into the taste, with pronounced sweet raspberry and strawberry, and a hint of cranberry in the finish.  The tannins are there, but really quite mild.  Fish Eye Sweet Red is as you'd expect, sweet, but the flavors are much deeper than I was expecting.  Typically sweet wines tend to be a bit thin, but this is a bordering on full-bodied which is refreshing to see from a sweet red, which is probably from the Shiraz base.  Whatever it is, it works.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this!

Drink This: if you want a surprisingly fuller-bodied sweet red wine.  I could see this being enjoyed by newbies to red wine, as well as veterans.  It fills the gap between traditional dry reds and sweet, pink wines.  And with a suggested retail of $7 a bottle, it's definitely worth a try.
Don't Drink This: if you're looking for a dry, oak bomb of a wine.



Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka

Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow
30% Alcohol (60 Proof)
So, do you notice that the picture for this Marshmallow Vodka seems a bit grainy compared to some of my past review pics?  Well, that's because I took the photo on my cellphone using Instagram.  Maybe I'm trying to be one of the cool kids, or maybe, well, I can't find the battery charger for my digital camera.  I think you know which one it is...
Regardless, this is the review of Smirnoff's Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka.  No, this isn't any ordinary marshmallow vodka, this stuff is FLUFFED!  Honestly, I don't know why they had to add the word "fluffed" in the title, and in fancy script no less.  Maybe people like fluffy stuff.  Like kittens and pillows and, uh, marshmallows.  Hell, I don't know...
Anyway, in the never ending quest to find booze my wife will drink (see the reviews of Smirnoff's Whipped Cream Vodka, Smirnoff Melon Vodka, Disaronno Amaretto, and some other stuff for example) I ended up buying Smirnoff's relatively new Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy marshmallows, especially in S'mores.  But in vodka?  Let's get serious, that just sounds crazy.  Yet, there has been a recent flood of crazy vodka flavors (wedding cake? bacon? bison grass? hamburger?) (okay, so there's no such thing as hamburger vodka, but the others? Yes, they all exist).  So, I could totally see Fluffed Marshmallow in some sort of S'mores cocktail in a fancy pants bar.  The point is, my wife is especially picky about which types of booze she drinks, preferring something sweet, but not overly so, but not too boozy, and nothing that tastes like raw alcohol, beer, or anything aged in wood.  What that leaves me is basically nothing to offer her (although she has still taken a unusual fondness to Disaronno mixed with cola or cranberry juice.) 
But for now, let's just look at Smirnoff's Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka, itself.  It pours crystal clear, as all vodka should.  It smells like sugar water, artificial sugar (think Splenda), and plastic.  And even though that sounds weird and perhaps unappetizing, it's actually not terrible smelling, just sweet and candy-like.  When tasting straight, you immediately get hit with a mouthful of Splenda and Stevia flavors, followed by hints of vanilla extract, but with a smooth finish that actually tastes like smooth, creamy marshmallow.  While the initial tastes are a bit harsh, the finish is actually sweet and pleasant, and I'm not normally one that likes overly sweet drinks.  The finish and aftertaste totally redeem the upfront, initial artificial sweetness.  I actually prefer this to Smirnoff's Whipped Cream Vodka, the finish is smoother and the alcohol bite is more hidden (as it should be for only 60 Proof).  Surprisingly, however, is that my wife doesn't seem as fond of this as Smirnoff's Whipped Cream Vodka.  Go figure...
Drink This: if you want a flavored vodka that tastes like marshmallows, particularly in the finish, and you don't mind a bit of artificial flavoring.  It's really not that bad as a mixer for sweet drinks.
Don't Drink This: if you want something manly.  With each sip of this sweet vodka, I can feel my beard sighing and shaking its hairs in disapproval.            
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...