About Cold Duck

The Holidays are approaching as we speak. For many people, memories of Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Years Eves past cross their minds. Some of those memories are of a certain spirit, called Cold Duck. Some look back fondly on this beverage, remembering it from occasions such as birthdays, Christmas and New Years Eve. You may even remember with nostalgia, the commercials from the 1970’s, of a couple toasting the holidays with a glass of Cold Duck, with a cheerful Christmas carol playing in the background.

You might think that Cold Duck sounds more like a dinner recipe than a beverage. Or, you may cringe at the thought of a bottle of cold wine, since it is one of the cheapest wines on the market, and doesn’t carry the same sophistication as wome of the other sparkling wines on the market, such as Dom Perignon. But Cold Duck was once one of the best selling sparkling wines in the United States, and it is still available at your local grocery store for only a few dollars a bottle.

Cold Duck originated in Germany, where it can be traced to the practice in Bavaria of mixing cold, sparkling Burgundy with bottles of previously opened Champagne. This mixture was knows as kalte ende (cold end). It kept the champagne from being wasted, and provided a tasty beverage at the same time. Over time, the name became transliteraeed to kalte ente, or cold duck. In 1937, the owner of the Pontchartrain Wine Cellars in Detroit, Harold Borgman, invented his own beverage based on this Bavarian custom.

Cold duck experienced a surge of popularity in the early 1970s, being very popular at parties. With it’s soft concord grape base, it is mixed with a combination of red and white wines. The original American Cold Duck combined one part of a California red wine with two parts of a New York sparkling wine. This exact recipe varies today. One of the best known brands of Cold Duck is AndrĂ©, from the E&J Gallo Winery, which uses Concord grapes for their recipe. In 1971, the winery was selling two million cases of the wine every year, four years after it was introduced to the public. Like many white wines and sparkling wines, Cold duck is best served chilled. It goes great with party hors d’ouvres, like cheese and crackers or olives in a pastry crust.

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