I’m a huge Adam Carolla fan. Unabashedly so. I’ve been fascinated by his unadulterated, unfiltered stream-of-consciousness musings ever since hearing him on Loveline in the mid-‘90s. The only season of Dancing With the Stars I ever watched was the one he appeared on. He made a movie called The Hammer; I loved it. He started a podcast. I rarely miss it.
Yeah, if Carolla is behind it, I’m on board. Well, almost.
See, there’s this thing called Mangria …
If you’ve been listening to Carolla’s podcasts, odds are you’ve heard about Mangria by now. If you haven’t, Mangria is an alcoholic beverage created by equal parts inspiration and desperation: Apparently one night Carolla didn’t have enough red wine to get drunk, so he poured a bunch of other stuff in the glass (Vodka? Rum? Orange juice? Who really knows?) Apparently he liked the taste enough to bottle and market it, and now it’s available at Lee’s Discount Liquors valleywide.
I’m not sure I would have pursued a product like Mangria if Carolla hadn’t been behind it (I’m really more of a beer/whiskey guy), but he made a personal appearance at the Rainbow Boulevard store last week, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to meet him and support his latest venture. So, on March 29, I stood in line with hundreds of other fans and waited my turn to buy a bottle. Carolla couldn’t have been a nicer guy—he was very understanding when I made the mistake of ordering one of his books, only to learn those were cash-only (guess who never carries cash?) He’d started to sign the book by the time I pointed out I had no money on me, so I felt a bit bad—and bought an extra bottle of Mangria to make up for it. Carolla signed ’em both. Souvenirs for life, anyone?
I’ve gone through the better part of a bottle, and all I have to say is … hey, even guys like Carolla can make a misstep once in a while. It can be consumed on its own or with ice, and while the iced version was slightly more drinkable, both were iffy experiences.
You get a weird sense of the experience you’re about to have from the bottle’s “ingredients”: “Grape wine with natural flavor added.” Uh, okay. Thing is, this baby tops out at 41.8 proof, which seems a tad high for “Grape wine with natural flavor added.” One thing’s for sure: Whatever’s going on in this bottle, it gets you drunk—fast.
The nose is a bit like grape soda with wine added to it, after which a slight orange-y flavor emerges. Normally a wine’s nose will get me a bit excited. This one just had me apprehensive.
Then there’s the taste—dear lord, the taste. How to say this kindly—it’s all over the place. First is a blast of red wine, followed by orange sweetness, accent on the sweet. This is so sickly sweet I found myself bolting for the fridge to grab some cheese.
As I said earlier, the buzz comes quickly, so yeah, the flavor starts to improve a bit more as you drink, but not significantly so.
Now, I should point out I don’t have tons of experience with wine products, so I turned to two wine lovers to get their viewpoint. Both of them failed to finish their glasses. Comments ranged from “It’s not the worst” to “I would never buy this for myself.”
I also got my wife involved, and she was the lone dissenting voice, finding the taste to her liking and adding, “I could see having this with dessert.”
I can only hope that Carolla eventually decides to release his own whiskey or beer. And as for the manliness of that Mangria, well, at least it wasn’t a wine cooler.