What are Wine Coolers?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2016
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Wine coolers are the commercial adaptation of various drinks made with fruit juice and wine. Such drinks like sangria were often made at home. This changed, however, when the company California Coolers®, founded in Stockton, California, began producing a bottled version of this beverage in 1981.

California Coolers® became very popular, though it has been suggested, and many who were teens in this time period observed, that these sweet and fruity drinks were popular among underage drinkers. The taste of wine was masked fairly well in commercial wine coolers. For wine purists, no amount of fruit juices and flavoring could mask the taste of top quality wine.

The success of California Coolers® can be easily shown by about 1985, when the company was selling approximately 12.3 million cases of the product yearly. This led other companies to begin selling their own versions. The most popular of these were Bartles & Jaymes® and Seagram’s® brands. All three companies produced original flavors of coolers, and then expanded to offer different flavors to keep consumers coming back for more.

Yet in 1991, federal taxes increased on wine coolers, reducing their sales. The interest in wine tasting, and enjoying quality wine also increased, and many found commercially produced coolers to be too sweet. They still had a small market, but their popularity was clearly fading. California Coolers® went out of business in 1992.


Due to popularity of beverages based on malts, Seagrams® and Bartles & Jaymes® reformulated these drinks so they no longer contained wine, but were instead beverages like fruity ale. The wine cooler in most forms seemed gone, but not forgotten by its remaining fans.

This is perhaps why, in 2007, Majestic Brands &reg: began producing California Coolers® again. The company now is almost the only mass manufacturer of the beverage, since other companies changed their formula. You can find California Coolers® in a variety of flavors, including Cranberry Grapefruit, Coast Citrus, White Peach and Pomegranate Berry. These coolers represent changing palates, especially the use of pomegranate, which has only recently become popular as a fruit juice flavor.

There’s no need to buy wine coolers though, when you can make your own. Numerous recipes exist to create lovely punches, with lots of different fruit juice varieties. Some commercial coolers were noted for a small amount of bubbles in the mix. You can add a splash of sparkling water, ginger ale, or a little lemon-lime soda to get that effervescent quality in home made wine punches.


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Post 5

@anon107141: When I was a teenager, I got whatever liquor I wanted, and since I expect my children (one day) to be just as intelligent and cunning as I was, I can only give them all the information and hope they make the best decisions.

Having a drink or two at 17 is part of growing up, although I imagine you were a complete square who probably didn't get laid often. Also, the federal drinking age needs to be done away with, but I guess some people think it works. States should be able to decide - and I'm sure many would revert back to 18 or 19, which I find fair.

Your "step up to the plate" strict parenting will

just cause your children to be more rebellious. The only person I knew growing up who literally became a complete career criminal waste of human flesh had the strictest, most staunchly Christian parents of anyone I've ever met. Coincidence? Absolutely not.
Post 4

Loosen up? Underage drinking is never a good thing, no matter how much or how little. The concern should be about everything the teens are doing that are against the law, not just the things that are extremely bad. Its called parenting, not being their "cool" friend. Quit being a wuss and step up to the plate.

Post 3

Ah, loosen up. It's better than the kids doing shots of whiskey or something. They're tasty and they're light. Worry about the rampant drugs and the other nasty things the kids are into.

Post 2

I couldn't agree more. I was a teen in the 80s when these drinks were very popular among teens, and we used to drink a lot of them. It's like they make drinks that appeal to young drinkers-- not a great thing.

Post 1

I feel like wine coolers are dangerous because people don't consider them to have much alcohol at all. Because they taste like juice, people often treat them like juice and drink much more than they should or let adolescents drink wine coolers.

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