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May 16, 2006 11:34 AM

Cold duck, the drink - it quacks me up

  • r

For a while, there was a time when cold duck was popular.

It is basically champagne with sparkling burgundy and a touch of sugar.

I always thought it was a horrid drink and like most bad fads I was happy to see it go.

Time passed and I discovered Lambrusco, a mildly carbonated red wine. Was cold duck just a bad version of Lambrusco? One day wandering down the ailes of Raley's I noticed that Andre was selling cold duck.

Ok, Andre is not fine wine at its best, but was cold duck as bad as remembered? Maybe I wasn't ready for this at the time.

It lived up the the horror of my memeory. Bad burgundy made with mediocre sparkling wine with enough sugar to make it even more cloying and awful.

Who thought this up? Some drunken marketing team? A company with too much bad sparkling wine and bad burgundy? What twisting thinking created this?

Turns out that cold duck has its origins in Bavaria and was called kalte ende ("cold end"). It was a way of not wasting champagne. Ende became ente, or duck.

If you see it, don't duck .. run.


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  1. Cold duck? Lambrusco?

    You never stopped at Boone's Farm on your voyage of wine discovery?

    Come on. Admit it.

    27 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez

      Or Ripple.

      Way back when, Cold Duck was one of the standard gifts we gave at Christmas!

      Heck, we were glad to receive it too!

      1. re: DT

        don't forget riunite's cousin canei and correct me if i'm mistaken wasn't the character's name in the commercial aldo?

        1. re: byrd

          I think Aldo was Cella, as in "Chill a Cella".

          1. re: coll

            Ah that Aldo, "he's no slave to fashion... "

            Yes, Cella.


      2. re: Bob Martinez

        My introduction to wine was Boone's farm.

        Hey, Lumbrusco is good ... but that's from someone who started with Boone's Farm ... actually it was a sip of Manishevitz every Christmas.

        What's wrong with Lambrusco? Even my local fine wine shop sells it. While admitting it isn't a fine wine, it calls this one "just plain delicious ... A wine to be drunk, not talked about"


        1. re: rworange

          I drank my share of Boone's Farm too and some Lambrusco as well.

          What was that orange stuff that was sort of like pre-made screwdrivers? Tango? Brrr.

          And then there was Yago Sangria and it's evil cousin, Spanada, which was only drinkable between 33 and 35 degrees Farenheit. It came in 2 liter teardrop shaped jugs and was foul, nasty stuff. But with some fresh fruit added and poured into a pitcher full of ice you could fool your tastebuds for awhile. Unfortunately the stomach and liver saw through this charade. Most Spanada nights ended badly.


          1. re: Bob Martinez

            I've consumed a lot of trashy drinks in my life, but, for me, cold duck always sits at the bottom. Even in my Boone's Farm days I could never drink more than a sip or two.

            IMO, the Germans should have just tossed the unused wine or made vinegar out of it. There was no reason for this. Then again, there are alot of very sweet German wines, so perhaps that's where the tolerance came in.

            Like this other link about cold duck says "a corruption of "Kalte Ende" (cold end) which refers to the practice of marrying all of the left over wine after a banquet. There is an urban myth that the wine was a mixture from the dump buckets after a tasting"

            I don't think that is a myth at all ... cold duck itself is a corruption.


            1. re: rworange

              There are a number of things about the "kalte ende" story that strike
              me as an urban legend. First, every appearance of the story is
              identical, so there's no real authority. Second, the stories all refer
              to Bavaria. Even if there was wine in Bavaria, which for all practical
              purposes there is not, it would not be red wine and it would not be

              One of the references refers to the "traditional" practice of mixing the
              wines together after a banquet. I have been to a fair number of
              banquets in Germany. One pretty solid tradition is that there is no
              wine left over at the end.

            2. re: Bob Martinez

              "What was that orange stuff that was sort of like pre-made screwdrivers? Tango? Brrr."

              In philly, it was 'Orange Driver'. To this day I can rememeber how bad my head hurt, how badly it tasted and how sick it made the lovely Bernadette Manning, who spewed vast, vast quantities of the vile stuff into my 58 Chevy's Naugahyde backseat. And down inside the side window, and across the rear window and down the outside of the sparkling white paint job. The Farimount Park Police arrived before I got the chance to thank her.

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                And let's not forget Bali Hai ?wine.

                1. re: Taralli

                  Oh do let's forget Bali Hai. Agree that Cold Duck is the worst of the worst, but Bali Hai's right after it. Though rivaled by "imitation" Boone's Farm "wines" that I have mercifully forgotten the details of.

                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                    And Pagan Pink Ripple...HOOO hah!

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      The Ripples were what I was trying to remember yesterday along with the Bali Hai. Thunderbird also occurred to me.

                      1. re: Taralli

                        And while we're at it, no discussion of gut busting wines would be complete without a mention of Mad Dog 20/20.

                        I've done a number of questionable things in my life but drinking Mad Dog is not one of them.



                    2. re: Aromatherapy

                      Imitation Boones Farm... Thank god I never sank that low.

                      I've never met a Lambrusco that I liked--dry or semi-sweet. But the faint hint of vomit flavor that I have always encountered has kept me from delving too deeply...

                    3. re: Taralli

                      Ah, but do you remember that there was a "white" Bali Hai too? The predominant flavor was heavy pineapple - probably from concentrate, direct from Dole?

                      Same for Lancer's - two wines, in different colored bottles, of the same shape.


                  2. re: rworange

                    I, too, enjoy Lambrusco. I don't find it cloying or harsh at all -- and my Italian friends enjoy drinking it with me as well.

                    1. re: rworange

                      It should be noted that the Barbolini Lambrusco, unlike the other wines being discussed here, is dry and not sweet.

                      Disclaimer: my friend imports this wine.


                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Olivettos was serving Barbolini during their whole hog dinner a couple of
                        years ago. It turns out to be the *perfect* pork wine. And at about $10
                        retail is a fantastic bargain.

                        I don't think I'd call it dry, exactly, but definitely closer to that end of the
                        spectrum. Apparently Lambrusco can actually be quite good. I wonder
                        what the economics were that made it such a garbage wine back 30 years

                        1. re: Jef

                          The Barbolini is especially good with salumi.

                          I've been told that dry or dryish lambrusco is the preferred style in Italy. Likewise dry or near dry prosecco, rather than the sweeter stuff sold here. Sweet Riunite lambrusco may be something designed for American tastes, and not a reflection of what was produced for local consumption 30 years ago. I checked the website and the residual sugar in Riunite is 6% (60g/L).


                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            It was always my understanding that the sweet version was specially designed for us gringos. I have had decent lambrusco in Italy, good with really fatty sausages and such.

                            1. re: Aromatherapy

                              I don't know. I never had lambrusco in the US, but I have had it here in Spain and some of it is very sweet.

                    2. re: Bob Martinez

                      Boone's Farm is from my youth, too!! Also, there was another horrid wine- I think it was called Zapple!

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I admit to visiting Boone's Farm. It served an important purpose for me. On the long, slow road from growing up with Manischevitz to learning to appreciate wonderful wines, I had to transition from the Kosher stuff to Boone's, then to White Zin (remember when that was trendy?) to get to where I am today

                        1. re: Dev

                          white zin was trendy? i remember my aunt asking for it at defunct mc2 in sf and the pro of a waitress saying we don't have that, but how about this white with a little cassis added? aunt was happy. this stays in my memory because her husband was a wine collector.

                          a case of Cold Duck under the xmas tree always brings a big smile to my brother's face. confirmed with mom that neither of us was adopted.

                          bartlby's wine coolers?

                        2. re: Bob Martinez

                          One of the "benefits" of being elderly is remembering when such things as Lambrusco and Annie Green Springs were notable improvements over what had gone before. I remember when the staple beverage at any quasi-artsy party was gallon jugs of Red Mountain, a substance only a slightly deeper red than mercurochrome, with a distinctly high-volatile chemical topnote and a finish so nasty you had to drink more just to quell it. I also remember a party at which one gallant, emulating the champagne-from-a-slipper tradition, drank Mountain Red from Teresa Palmer's sneaker. He had to use his finger to stop up the hole in the toe...

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            Boone's Farm? Please! I was educated abroad so Ripple was my beverage of choice ;-)

                          2. Ahh, those '70s. I remember Cold Duck had a lot of friends:

                            Cella Lambrusco, "Chill a Cella!"
                            Riuniti, "Riuniti on ice. That's nice!"
                            Martini & Rossi, "Martini & Rossi on the rocks. Say yes!"
                            Asti Spumante
                            Boones Farm Strawberry Hill
                            Andre pink champagne, "Andre for the holidays!"

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: Jef

                              Don't forget the very upscale Blue Nun for those with wine savy.

                              1. re: rworange

                                We always bought the German wines because they were $1, in a barrel by the door. I think we liked Schwartenkeller Katz which had a black cat on the label. My favorite wine at the time though was Catawba Pink: a friend brought some over a few years ago because he remembered I liked it, yuck!!!!

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I recall getting any cheap white wine and just adding a pack of grape Kool-Aid..this was pre Jim Jones..

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Was a time -- think Stiller & Meara -- when Blue Nun was the #1 imported wine in the U.S.

                                    So, too, for Lancer's and Mateus.

                                  2. re: Jef

                                    Who doesn't have fond memories of Champale? I'll never forget loading up in my best friend's grandmother's blue Cadillac with a bunch of frineds, picking up some pink Champale, and going to the drive-in theater to see "The Rose". It was a lovely evening.

                                    1. re: Sister Sue

                                      That reminds me of Sanford & Sons, which I was just old enough to watch with my grandfather:

                                      Champiple -- champagne and ripple

                                      1. re: Sister Sue

                                        the Chamnpagne of Beers...and my mom drank it on those really special nights at the Elks Lodge.

                                      2. re: Jef

                                        Annie Green Springs, anyone? This is all bringing up (no pun intended) memories of alot of puking.

                                        1. re: chittachef

                                          When Boone's Farm was too $$$...

                                          1. re: Aromatherapy

                                            Hence the puking........

                                        2. re: Jef

                                          "Youuuu...are going onnnn a gentle Joooourney...
                                          So take youuuur...loving tiiiiime -
                                          You're moving're grooooving on
                                          Cribaaaaari...Cribari wiiiiiine,
                                          Oooh wo wo wooooah!"

                                          Thirty-five years if it's a day, and I still can't get that damned thing out of my head. What's worse, in a way, was that it was actually not bad as jug wine went. Just cheap zinfandel, back when that was your standard Italian-style cheap red. Back when it came in fifths, quarts and gallons...

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            With a portrait of Papa Cribari on the label. You just knew his nose was red!

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              Even now, I occasionally say "Cribari zinfandel was better than this". Fond memories.

                                            2. re: Jef

                                              Boone's Farm, Blue Nun, Riunite, Lambrusco, etc. Been there done that!!! ROFLMAO!!!! They were good times!

                                              1. re: Jef

                                                OMG- Matues. Forgot all about that. Remember drinking that in my teen years on Martha's Vineyard- thought it was upscale, because it had a cork!!

                                              2. My girlfriend and I drank Andre Cold Duck in the late 60's and thought it was wonderful, I know I wouldn't touch the stuff now.

                                                1. Reading the entries in this thread had me flashing on a bit from the National Lampoon Radio Hour from the 70s in which a James Taylor imitator sang a commercial jingle with the line:
                                                  "Oh, my favourite juice is
                                                  Mother Goose's
                                                  Sweet Potato Sparkling Wine"

                                                  1. This whole discussion is verrry INteresting, if you know what I mean. I admit to being too young (at almost 40) to remember most of these wines, except for commercials seen as a child. But it got me thinking about the reason for it.

                                                    The wines our forefathers drank were madeiras, ports and sherries, all sweet wines -- wines that could withstand the trip by ship from Europe (madeiras, for one, were used as ballast in the shipping trade), so fortified wines for many years were all that people in America knew. Whatever wine trade that might have been burgeoning in American pre-the early 20th Century was by prohibition. So, it's not that remarkable that when translating American wine preferences to the commercial, the marketers/manufacturers went with sweet wine. It was our only heritage -- all that people knew.

                                                    Thankfully we've moved beyond that, but the history backing the preference for sweet wine is there.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: DanaB

                                                      Oops, that was supposed to read, "Whatever wine trade that might have been burgeoning in American pre-the early 20th Century was DONE IN by prohibition."

                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                        It probably had nothing to do with tradition, but getting wasted cheaply and pleasantly. It had more to do with marketing to people who were moving on from soda.

                                                        The Baby Boomers were legal (or almost) and needed party booze for little money. It made me laugh when someone said that Annie Green Springs was what you bought when you couldn't afford Boone's Farm.

                                                        I remember pooling spare change with friends to buy a bottle of Boone's Farm.

                                                        It was alcohol and you didn't need to develop a taste for it like beer. It taste like soda ... with a buzz.

                                                        And it is all too true that Boone's Farm was the gateway to moving up the wine ladder. First apple, then ... wow ... strawberry Boone's farm ... hey, that looks like white zin ... yeah ... this isn't bad, not as sweet as the Boone's farm stuff and no formaldehyde (don't know if that was an urban legend) ... I wonder what else is tasty in wine that is better than white zin ... and so it went.

                                                        So the wine industry should give Boone's Farm its due.

                                                        Serious wine with food was jugs of Carlo Rossi ... and let us not forget authentic Italian chianti that could be used to decorate the table in the future by putting a candle and letting the wax melt down it. So romatic.

                                                        A lot of it was geared to working class families who had no tradition of wine at home. Other than the Christmas Manoshevitz, the closest my family came to wine was when Mr. Barberi next door would once a year share a bottle of his home-made wine with grapes he grew himself ... and Connecticut was not exactly grape-growing territory.

                                                        That brings up the late Italian Colony ... "That little old wine-maker, me". A step up from the Gallo, at that time. Odd that in that time period when so many people knew so little about wine, even then, people didn’t have nice things to say about Gallo.

                                                        IMO, this had a lot to do with providing ‘fortified soda’ rather than sweet wine.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          In that same vein, ever since I can remember, my family served a sweet white wine from Wente Brothers for holiday meals. I went to their website, and they don't even make it anymore. If you look at the older wineries in So. Cal. (Wente, Galleano, San Antonio, Joseph Filippi), they all used to focus on sweet and fortified wines, because that was what people drank up until the wine revolution that accompanied the "California cuisine" movement of the 1970s/80s.

                                                          I really think it was a function of there not being other alternatives/not being a history of wine drinking (other than church, etc.) in this country as there was in Europe, rather than a marketing coup.

                                                          1. re: DanaB

                                                            My mother used to drink Widmer Lake Niagara -- a jug white -- in the late 70s.

                                                            Some 20 years later, I stumbled it in a store and bought a bottle, and opened it at her house. I don't know if her tastes had changed that drastically or the wine had changed, but it was wretched -- if you could ferment 7-Up, that's about what it was...insipidly sweet with a vicious alcohol burn.

                                                            We had one swallow and dumped the rest of it down the drain.

                                                            (oh yes -- my wine education was the same as the rest of you -- Lambrusco, Lancer's, and Blue Nun...then I finally began to get my palate in order. By college I was at least up to sharing a bottle of Korbel or Freixenet with a girlfriend at parties..)

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Many of us had a similar "road to wine appreciation." Nothing wrong with the twists and turns of that road - the times were right.


                                                        2. re: DanaB

                                                          and bronco wine in california got sued by the feds during the barbera wine craze for selling truckloads of "inferior" grapes nicely topped with barbera grapes. why do i remember these things?