Friday, 6 July 2012

Drinks for Classy People Part 3: The Lambrini

In previous posts on Drink it How You Like it we’ve had features on two drinks that perhaps struggle under the weight of the preconceptions people have about them; Carlsberg Special Brew and BabyCham.

Carlsberg Special Brew is known as tramp juice, and is generally considered to be drunk by the homeless and hopeless alcoholics you might find on your local park benches and at bus stops (at 8.30am). I think the price is a bit beyond the means of most homeless when you consider there are many cheaper super strength lagers available, but perhaps it’s a special treat when they’ve come into some unexpected money.

BabyCham on the other hand is a massive girly drink. Everyone remembers it from the adverts in the 80s, but no one seems to drink it – presumably because its faux champagne image is a little off-putting.

Continuing in that theme then (I’m not sure what the theme is… Drinks for Classy People? Let’s call it that)… this week we’ll be looking at Lambrini. Why? It’s on Special Buy at Aldi.

in the bottle
At the conception of this post, I didn’t really know what Lambrini was. I assumed it was a kind of fizzy wine, and I knew that it’s target market was er… girls who just want to have fun, aged say 18-30 – like the holiday club, but presumably a little classier, judging by the girls in this advert. Some of them have jobs, some are doing responsible, adult things (like DIY – actually, it looks like they’ve finished the job. Good work!), and they’ve all learned a specific dance, which coincidentally is called The Lambrini. None of them look like scallies, none of them are wearing tracksuits or over-sized hoop ear rings, none of them are sitting at a bus stop with a pram, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them in episodes of Boozed Up Britain, Ibiza Uncovered or Party Paramedics. These girls might be paramedics – except the ones that are obviously surgeons… dancing… surgeons. And since all they want to do is have fun, presumably they’re not interested in things like commitment or babies.

30 might be pushing it a bit, actually. You’d expect them to have moved on to wine by then. On a side note, one of my line managers buys this for her teenage daughter because “it doesn’t really count as booze” – though it actually does. She was a bit surprised when I told her its ABV. I don’t know why she never thought to look at the bottle.

A bit of internet research shows that Lambrini is actually ‘lightly sparkling perry’ (7% ABV), so very much like BabyCham, but a little less sparkling. BabyCham comes in tiny bottles (200ml), while Lambrini comes in a large bottle (750ml), not unlike those giant bottles of San Miguel that I’m so fond of.

There were two varieties on offer in Aldi, and while I had been intending to buy one of each, the potential for humiliation and the fact that Brenda said she wouldn’t be drinking much of it convinced me just to get one of the original variety. Luckily the guy at the checkout in Burnage’s Aldi store just swiped it through the scanner like a bus driver looks at a bus pass – in that he didn’t look at all. Thousands of pounds worth of merchandise pass through his hands and go beep every single day, and not one item - nor one combination of item and customer - can appear to him as interesting in any way. So thanks for that.

Lam-bree-ni! Do do-do do-do, Lam-bree-ni…

Seven percent. That’s not that weak, is it? It’s half the strength of wine, but it’s stronger than your average beer, so I guess one of these is enough to get a common-or-garden variety teenage girl nicely pissed for the evening. That sounds dodgy. I’m not a sex offender!

I was, of course, stupidly excited about beginning the latest round of research for the blog, so I cracked it open an hour or so in advance of going out to see the Jesca Hoop gig at the Academy 3. Brenda wanted to drive, so I was drinking alone.

Lambrini is looking at you
Well, what can I tell you? It was fine. Not as sweet as I imagined it would be, but when Brenda came to drink hers on our return, she thought it was very sweet. She said she preferred the BabyCham – presumably because it feels a bit more like drinking champagne. It does taste a bit cheap, but certainly nowhere near as offensive as those 3 litre bottles of cheap cider – White Lightning, Carbon White and the like – which for my money are the masculine equivalents of this. Compared to those, Lambrini is positively classy. And it comes in a glass bottle. Not too classy though; on my way home last night I saw two middle aged ladies sitting at the bus stop next to one empty and one mostly empty bottle of Lambrini. They looked to be having a nice time.

I wouldn’t buy Lambrini again (even at £1.99), but there were certainly no ill side effects, and it didn’t taste all bad. I’d just prefer to stump up the extra two quid and buy four cans of Holsten Pills.

So there you have it; certainly not a glowing review, but not a bad one either. It’s all about personal preference really, and I can’t imagine too many people preferring to buy this over a nice Chardonnay (women) or just… beer (men), but you know; it’s cheap and cheerful, and that’s got to stand for something.


Now! This weekend is the weekend of the Chorlton Beer Festival, and I was fully intending to go until I realised it was going to rain all weekend. There isn’t much joy to be had drinking ale with your feet in a puddle, and your hood up, listening to the constant pat, pat of raindrops. We’ll see how many people really like real ale there, won’t we? Except we won’t because presumably no one will be there to see how many people aren’t there. Stupid British summertime.

Well, have fun this weekend. I’ll see you next week with some more… something or other.

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