Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on March 7th, 2010

Alita. (karikatura.lt)

After a meeting at work this week, we had our usual pause to drink some wine. For some reason, we were especially thirsty and quickly bored through our two-bottle ration. Wanting more, we tried to have the ration increased, but, instead, the suggestion was that we raid our own private stocks. I happen to have a private stock of wine at work, and it consists of one bottle of Alita sparkling wine that I brought back from Lithuania in January.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a big fan of Alita. In fact, the bulk of my exposure to it probably came at Kunigaikščių užeiga, once they took their two Soviet sparkling wines, Советское Шампанское and Советское Мускатное off the menu. ((I found a bottle of the Мускатное this week for sale for 9€ at the Russian deli Гастрономь, about a kilometer’s walk from where I live. I was shocked to find out that it is “produced and bottled” in Latvia, but I guess the brand has been distributed around the former USSR. I’m pretty certain that previous versions of the stuff I drank were bottled in Ukraine. Now that I know its Latvian provenance, I’m very scared to see how it is.)) The move to champagne mid-way through the meal was a well-exercised pro move, but once Alita became the only show in town, the interest faded away.

In either case, we were down to just the bottle of Alita, and so out it came. I had given the wine about a 5% chance of being legitimately liked, a 15% chance of being politely liked, and an 80% chance of being disliked to various degrees. I was about right.

One taster asked the crowd what the antimalarial medicine is that’s sprayed, since that’s what Alita smelled like. Another remarked that now one knew the flavor of anti-freeze. Several offered to pour their portions back into my cup after I explained that I was not going to throw the contents out (in general, the room was very anti-finishing the bottle). But the best was the progression taken by one taster:

Smelling the bouquet: “Odd, it smells of apples.”

Sipping: “OK.”

Aftertaste: “Oh, this is not good.”

Then: “This is truly not good” (C’est vraiment pas bien).

A half-minute later: “C’est dégueulasse!”

And that was that. The anti-malarial anti-freeze cupful of filthy ickiness was ostracized, and the rest of the crowd managed to find two more bottles to continue the evening’s chatter.

[Originally posted, with proper formatting, to Lithchat.]

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