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
Cheerwine (1 can) Calories: 150
Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 25 mg
Carbs: 42 g
Sugar: 42 g