This week's selection is a bit of a mystery. It's not "Murder on the Orient Express," or anything, but it's still somewhat of an enigma. (Off the topic, but Agatha Christie's views on race were fairly.... questionable. Look up the original, original title for "And Then There Were None.") The Frizzante label calls them "European Soda," and further mentions that they're a product of France. That's where the trail grows cold. I spent a little time trying to trace the soda's French manufacturer to no avail. All I found were websites telling me where I could order it from Wegman's, or nutritional information, or other folk's ratings of it. So we'll have to leave it at that. It would appear that it is made in France, but may not be sold there. It might just be solely made for Wegman's supermarket back in the U.S. Maybe this is a bit of a cheat, but let's move on.
The confusion continues with the soda's name--Frizzante. This French-made product's name comes from an Italian word for "slightly effervescent." (Which makes me wonder--are there also individual words for "about half effervescent," and "mostly effervescent," and "99.4% effervescent"? I'd like to think so.) This word is usually reserved for speaking about wines. You could see why they chose this name after the drink was opened and poured into a glass. It had a thick carbonated head, almost like a beer.
The bottles themselves were kind of distinctive. They were liter bottles made of glass. Here in the U.S., of course, most drinks in the past couple of decades come in plastic bottles, or metal cans. But the Frizzante bottles were solid, foot long (about 30 cm.) monsters. In a pinch they'd make effective weapons for bashing somebody over the head, way better than a typical 11.2-12 ounce beer bottle.
Another unusual feature of Frizzante was the juice in it. Granted, it wasn't that much (2% for most of them, with one type having a high of 12%) but still. U.S. soft drinks, clearly, save for maybe Hawaiian Punch, are mostly just "natural flavors," unnatural flavors, and high fructose corn syrup.
As usual, I'll use the U.S. scholastic rating system--"A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as needed.
1) Frizzante Sicilian Lemon, 12% juice: A. Very very nice. I think the added lemon juice adds to the taste. A cross between lemonade and lemon soda.
2) Frizzante Sour Cherry Lemon, 2% juice: B. Pretty good, but a little blander than the others. Not as pleasantly sour as I'd hoped.
3) Frizzante Cranberry Lime, 2% juice: A. Also excellent. Nicely tart. Could really pick up on the lime flavor.
4) Frizzante Blood Orange, 2% juice: A-. Also really good. Tart like the Sicilian Lemon kind. Really solid and tasty.
As you can see, I was extremely impressed by Frizzante. Even the weakest one was still pretty good. I don't know if it's the added fruit juice, and/or the extra carbonation, but these were superior drinks. I just hope the French themselves get a chance to have them, too. I realize it's a long shot, but if any French readers would weigh in on the Frizzante situation there in the comments, I'd appreciate it.