Beverage Review: Cheerwine

Living in the middle of Nowhere, Virginia has some disadvantages for a foodie like me. A lack of dependable fast food access definitely cramps my style, as does reliable transportation to even the simplest of grocery stores. But if there is one advantage about living in the Shenandoah Mountains, it’s the nearby ever-present vending machines featuring Cheerwine at almost every run-down gas station dotting the crisscrossing country roads of the nearby small towns.

Cheerewine is one of those cult sodas that has an infamous reputation in the south. It was originally created in North Carolina back in 1917, gaining popularity due to “a hint of wild cherry and a bubbly effervescence.” It’s been the focus of  Food Network documentaries and Serious Eats postsalike, but until I relocated to the southeast, I’d never come into contact with it. I wanted to know if was really worth its reputation as an American classic, or if it simply just a localized version of Dr. Pepper.

The answer to the first question is a unequaviatable ”yes.” Buying a can of Cheerwine for 40 cents outside of a dumpy local gas station on a sweltering day, I did my part to add to its appeal as a down-south thirst quenched, but I let the soda do the talking when it came to taste.  It does have a Dr. Pepper-like aroma, but there’s a fruity kick and kind of astringent initial taste that doesn’t come through with Dr. Pepper. I’ve read that the sugar sweetened version is very assertive in carbonation, but I didn’t get that as much with the can featuring HFCS. Knock HFCS all you want, but I actually found the ultra-sweet, ruby-red taste incredibly quenching. There’s a hint of spice in there, as well as an almost floral note. I definitely enjoyed the cherry-flavor in the aftertaste, and I liked how it lacked the sharper, more bitter notes of Dr. Pepper that some might call harsh.

I don’t drink regular soda often, but if there’s one flavor that’ll get me off my Coke Zero kick, it’s Cheerwine. Call me sentimental for the picturesque southern gas station in the heat of a summer afternoon, but this is one regional soda worth seeking out and even ordering online.

Overall GrubGrade: 9.50/10

More Info: Cheerwine.com
Nutrition Facts:
Cheerwine (1 can) Calories: 150
Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 25 mg
Carbs: 42 g
Sugar: 42 g

16 comments on “Beverage Review: Cheerwine

  1. Josh says:

    What’s that can doing there? Cheerwine in glass is the ONLY way to go…(although it’s just as good out of a can)… :)

  2. Justin ST says:

    I remember that. I think I actually was a fountain drink option at the Zaxby’s I was at, but I could have been imagining that.

    There was actually a great seafood joint I tried out in Fredericksburg called The Mad Crab. I had the fried oysters, it was great, check it out.

  3. The Diet Cheerwine is excellent, as well. If they caffeinated it, I would never drink anything else.

  4. AC says:

    Cheerwine is the nectar of the gods! Moving from the Carolinas to Tennessee was a bit of a hardship for one reason – Cheerwine is still available but not in every gas station and road stop as it was in North and South Carolina. And I agree about diet, if cheerwine is the nectar of the gods than diet cheerwine is the nectar of the thin gods and their muses.

  5. Jeff says:

    we got em in glass bottles with real sugar here in NC, 99 cents for a 12 oz at the gas station. heaven in a bottle

  6. Shannon says:

    Thanks for doing this review. This was one of my favorite sodas until it disappeared from my area years ago.

  7. Justin says:

    Oh hell yes, Adam. I love this stuff and am more than willing to go to the specialty beverage store a few miles away and pay more than two bucks a bottle for it. Wish I could get it at the nearby gas station for 40 cents.

  8. Tarheel ED says:

    Diet Cheerwine is distributed primarily with caffeine,
    but they do make it in a caffeine free version too… just harder to find outside piedmont N.C.
    I drink it every morning instead of coffee.

  9. Robert says:

    You can find bottles of Cheerwine in most Cracker Barrels. I always pick some up when I am there.

  10. Raiders757 says:

    I’m not a big soda drinker myself, but I love Cheerwine. I also recommend you try the Cheerwine Sherbet. It’s sold in most Food Lion stores in my part of Va.

  11. VanessaG says:

    I’m a southern VA girl and I hardly ever have access to any of the foods you post, but Cheerwine I do! I like the diet Cheerwine too. In college our cross country team made Cheerwine ice cream. Good stuff! :)

  12. meliorn says:

    live in woodstock, ga and we got cheerwine at all the krogers. Easy to find here. So tasty!!

  13. Angelique says:

    I’m giving this an all-out Shenandoah farmgirl AMEN! Visiting Staunton two weekends ago, I just discovered Cheerwine at a vending machine outside Staunton. I’m hooked!

    Born in the South, raised in a glass… everyone say “Amen!”.

    Great post! Thanks!

  14. [...] last, but it was nice for the opening day.Also I must note… a crate of free apples, bottled Cheerwine in the fridge (love bottled Cheerwine), and tables topped with jars of free jellybeans and [...]