This is part 2 of my American regional soft drink/soda series, with the first being
New England’s Moxie (see December 5, 2013 post). One of the states I’ve worked in very
frequently is Virginia. It was here that I was first introduced to
Cheerwine. As I recall it was my friend
John Paul (a.k.a “Pope.”) who first recommended it. He mentioned that when he bought it on
projects he added a note on the receipt next to Cheerwine saying it was just
soda, for his company expense reports.
For this is true—Cheerwine is non-alcoholic, another entry in the
category of soft drinks that have adult sounding names, like birch beer, ginger
ale, and root beer.
Before I did my trademark shallow research, I always thought that Cheerwine was a Virginia based company, as I’ve only noticed it being sold there, and usually only in the areas an hour or two around Richmond in particular. But, that’s incorrect—it’s actually made in Salisbury, North Carolina, and is marketed throughout the Southeast, including Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and of course Virginia. Also, oddly,
for unknown reasons. Evidently the
company that makes it (Carolina Beverage Company) is on the rise, and is
looking to expand, as it plans to be available nationwide by 2017. It’s been made since 1917, and claims to be
the oldest continuing soft drink company still run by the same family. Cheerwine is cherry flavored, and its color
is a deep, burgundy red. That, and its
higher than average carbonation led to the “wine” part of its name, since it’s
bubbly and (red) wine colored.
I’m happy to report that I really like Cheerwine. As advertised, its cherry flavor is very distinct, and tasty. But, word of warning, it is very sweet. (In that way you can see its roots. Another of the Southeast’s popular beverages is a local iced tea variant called “sweet tea,” which is almost sugar with a little tea in it—total diabetes in a glass.) I certainly couldn’t drink it every day or anything, due to the sweetness, but every so often it’s a delightful beverage.
Also, for fans, it’s not just a soft drink. Some supermarkets in the Southeast market a sherbet and ice cream with its flavor, and in July in recent years Cheerwine partnered with Krispy Kreme to make a Cheerwine doughnut. Finally, for those wanting an alcoholic drink, Cheerwine mixed with Captain Morgan rum is known as a “Whining Pirate.”