Christmas in a can: A new artisanal wine cooler

The bottle:Hückfest wine cooler, $12 for a two-pack, $24 for a four-pack.

The back story: Remember wine coolers? They were a sweet-tasting alternative to beer — or the equivalent to alcoholic soda — that became all the rage a few decades ago. Today, they’ve largely disappeared from store shelves, though some might argue there’s an equivalent in the new generation of “alcopop” beverages — think Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Bud Light Lime-a-Rita or even boozy seltzer.

But in the last couple of years, Kat and Rob McDonald, a married couple who are California-based wine entrepreneurs, have breathed new life into the category with St. Mayhem, a “craft” wine cooler brand that makes use of better-quality ingredients and a distinctly artisanal approach. Think Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blended with organic mint leaves, puréed raspberry and matcha tea — an actual recipe for one of their coolers. And it’s a concept that’s catching on: The McDonalds say St. Mayhem’s sales have doubled in the past year.

Also see:This Christmas, give someone you love a bottle you love: 12 picks, from $14 to $900

Now, in partnership with the winemaker Andy Erickson, St. Mayhem has come out with Hückfest, a Christmas cooler, if you will. It’s a drink based on Swedish glögg (aka mulled wine) that combines red wine with cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, almond extract, ginger, nutmeg and blueberries. “Winter in a can” is what the St. Mayhem team calls it.

What we think about it: We’re not big fans of alcopop beverages, but Hückfest is hardly alcopop. Instead, it’s just as billed — a quality mulled wine-style drink, but in this case in a can. The taste is indeed very Christmas-y — the holiday spices are easy to detect. In all, a good alternative to eggnog or a holiday-inspired cocktail.

How to enjoy it: Even though mulled wine is typically served hot, the St. Mayhem team says to enjoy your Hückfest cold or at room temperature. And they suggest pairing it with a good cheese (say, English cheddar) or a spicy chocolate treat.

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