Boy Toy and I have gotten into the fun habit of visiting North Carolina wineries this year and while we both really enjoy the adventure, sometimes I just feel sorry for him. Most of our wineries produce muscadine wine varieties which are perfect for me because my taste buds veer more toward the sweeter and white varieties of wine while he prefers his wines red and dry. He's stuck spending the day swirling and sipping wine that I know he doesn't really enjoy but he's always a good sport about it. It was no surprise that when he received a promotional bottle of Charonge at his job, he passed it along to me for review (helloooooo Charonge PR people...why is my email not on your contact list??)
Charonge is a California white wine (one would assume Chardonnay based on the name but their website just refers to it as "white wine") infused with natural orange essence that came into being when Jim Ferguson, vice-president and general manager of Coastal Wine Brands, had a revelation while enjoying a glass of Chardonnay with friends. Realizing that everyone but him was enjoying their cocktail with a twist of orange he grabbed an orange slice, plunked it into his glass and the idea of Charonge was born. Don't we all wish our flugelbinder ideas would come so easily?
After the Charonge was significantly chilled, Boy Toy and I capped the bottle and poured a glass. I was excited and Boy Toy pretended to be excited to try this unpretentious wine that supposedly required no sniffing, no swirling and would make us think that mermaids from the far-off Orangeopia had squeezed their magical nectar of orange refreshment into our glass. (That is actually a paraphrased quote from their website, as I would need to be smashed-face drunk to dream up such marketing verbage. Me thinks the Charonge PR people have been indulging in product research a little too much.)
Neither of us could dispute the white wine claim but we both had to swirl and sniff and continue to taste to the point of nearly being smashed-face drunk since I hadn't had dinner because we seriously doubted the addition of orange essence. It was very subtle - so subtle in fact, that had I been served this glass of wine without knowing the bottle from which it was poured, I wouldn't have known it was anything other than a glass of white wine.
Charonge just didn't live up to the hype of standing out as something different in the white wine crowd. Perhaps it is better suited served with fresh oranges so you can add your own essence (which was ironically suggested by the creator in the comments of this funny blog review) or served to complement an orange themed dessert. The website shares some fun cocktail recipes that may do more to bring out the party that this wine intended to be on its own.
Click the "Where to Purchase" tab on Charonge's Facebook page to know where you can find it in your area. If you are in the immediate Queen City area, you'll be glad to know that Total Wine & More on Woodlawn Road and Harris Teeter stores carry the product, which would make me feel a little better about myself when purchasing a bottle because they also list convenience store/gas stations as places to buy. Maybe it's just me but there's just something about purchasing alcohol from a BP station or an EZ-Mart that gives way to the idea that you may have a drinking problem and might be discovered hiding behind the dumpster swigging from a brown paper bag in the dark of the night. And I don't know if having your product nestled between Colt 45 and six flavors of Gatorade is exactly the image Coastal Wine Brands is going for?
I wouldn't turn this wine away should it be served or given to me again, but for the retail price of around $10, I'll stick with squeezing my own oranges into my own wine.