Product: Cherry Kijafa (Cherry Wine with Sugar Beet Alcohol)
Produced by: V&S DANMARK A/S
Alcohol Content: 16% ABV
Location Purchased: NH State Liquor Store
Price Paid: On sale for $8.79, regular price was $9.79 for a 750 ml bottle
There were so many warning signs, so many clues that should have had us running for the hills at the very mention of the word “Kijafa”. But from the moment we saw this sitting on the bottom shelf of the hobo wine aisle, we knew we had to try it.
1. It was on the bottom shelf, a known area for storing boozes of ill repute.
2. It was a flavored wine product, which is generally synonymous with very untasty things.
3. The words “sugar beet alcohol” appeared on the front label.
4. The back label instructed us to mix this drink with soda, the subtext being that even the manufacturers think you should cut the taste of this “wine” with something.
5. The bird on the front label tried to warn us that drinking this was a bad idea.
To the untrained eye, he appears to be chirping a jolly tune. But we knew what he was really doing: vomiting.
We should have known better. But we are brave public servants, and we share our mistakes with you now in the hope that should you ever be tempted by this very cheap wine, you will think twice. According to one source, the Kijafa is made using only “the small, black, very aromatic Langeskov cherries…which only grow on the island of Funen. The cherries are pressed with the seeds…after fermentation the wine is stored for at least two years in oak barrels.” And for a wine made with such exacting standards, the end result basically tastes like cough syrup.
The color was a dark purplish red, and when poured into a goblet, it smelled intensely of sugary candy, cherries, beets, and prunes. It seemed innocuous enough, so we decided to drink three glasses each of the stuff: one neat, one over ice, and one over ice with soda.
We will say this: it was not the worst thing we have ever consumed. Compared to the Chelada, Cherry Kijafa was a walk in the park. Somebody, somewhere must love this stuff because they’ve been making it since 1841. Imagine a cool, refreshing beverage redolent with top notes of dusty prune and rock candy and bottom notes of cherry cough syrup and molasses. It was cloyingly sweet, like Kool-Aid made with too much sugar.
It definitely tasted better over ice, and actually not terrible with ice and soda. The price is low, the ABV is higher than most bottles of wine, and it tastes better than the salty clammy hell that is Chelada. But it still wasn’t very good. But it did get us drunk. And we have to admit that although we would never be caught drinking it again, the next time we’re both flat broke, we might just polish off the bottle. Would we buy it again? Absolutely not. But it won’t give us nightmares like some of the other terrible booze we’ve tormented our livers with over the years.
Bottom line: If you like prunes and sugar, and getting drunk, you might kinda dig this stuff.