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Cheap wines from the 70's/80's

I was inspired to try Thunderbird by the lyrics of an Ian Dury song, Sweet Gene Vincent, and went on to drink quite a few bottles during my post-university/drifting around doing odd jobs days. It was pretty vile for the first half bottle, but seemed ok after that. I have a half memory that two types were available, but can't remember what their respective merits were.
A gallon mug of Gallo Burgundy always was the base of my sangria (that I've not made for close to 20 years).
We drank a lot of Gallo Hearty Burgundy in grad school, which I think of as different from Gallo Burgundy. Used it for sangria, too. I suppose Hearty Burgundy fits the OPs criteria of being cheap go to wine in the 70s. Although I thought it was decent, "real" wine at the time, and I might feel that way now. Not that it ever saw wood or was made from an identifiable varietal. It did get good reviews though, and the flavor profile from bottle to bottle over the years was amazingly consistent.

Question re sangria: I remember making and being around a lot of sangria back in the day. But, at least when I made it, I did not add brandy or any other spirit. Recipes I see these days seem to all call for brandy. Was I making it wrong back in the day? Were most of us making it wrong, or just me? Or is the addition of brandy a modern changed up thing? How do they do it in Spain?

I should drink more sangria!


Fussy Evil Genius
@The Knize, traditional red sangria does include brandy . . . sort of. I've heard of it also being made with rum or some liquor (often Cointreau or some manner of triple sec), but brandy is the most traditional. In any case, it's not at all a modern development.

When I made it before, I sometimes added brandy and sometimes left it out. It depended on who I was making it for, the occasion, my bank account at the time, whether we could get our hands on some brandy at the moment, and any number of other factors. I never liked leaving it out, as just isn't quite the same--kind of sweet from the cheap wine and fruit--but there were reasons from time to time. I tended to leave it out if I expected some hard drinking would happen (whether it was hard drinking the sangria or other stuff). I also might leave it out and just have a bottle of brandy on the side for someone (like me) to add a splash and let others choose to go without.

I never, ever used anything fancy, though. Honestly, I can't recall just what I might've used, but I can tell you there was no go-to. It was a matter of going to the liquor store and picking something off the shelf that was priced right and didn't give me the shivers just to look at.
I guess I should! I do not remember a JJW song with a sangria recipe in it.

Actually, another thought as I beat a now dead horse--isn't that a disturbing metaphor--I grew up in Northern Virginia and went to undergrad and grad school in, I guess, mid-Virginia. Certainly I had sangria at restaurants in Viriginia way back in the day. However, a few years ago the chain tapas place--Tasca?, I think. Opened a restauran in Northern Virginia, and they got in trouble with the liquor control/licensing people for putting brandy in their sangria. Not because they were serving liquor. They had a license to serve mixed drinks, but because some obscure, I think state, law forbade mixing beer or wine with spirits. I think they changed the law. So either others were not "caught" previously, or those coming before were not making sangria properly!
I was not quite of legal drinking age in 1977, but this didn't prevent me from driving over to a friend's house for New Year's Eve and consuming, all by myself, a pretty good sized jug of Mogen David.


Seriously, it would have taken a major, valiant effort and a last minute rally to die honorably. I almost want to start driving the 'ole porcelain bus even now when I think about it.

Gallo was the go to cheap jug wine. We use to drink it on the beach at bon fires. Before seeing a .99ct. Movie. My mom drank Ingelnook. However you spell it? I snuck a bottle and it was awful. Gallo red of whatever variety for $3.99 a gallon was enough for a party. Dad drank Cutty Sark.
Ah, the 1970's. I preferred beer over wine, but I remember large bowls of sangria soaking up assorted cut up fruits, chianti in bottles with a 3-4' neck, Blue Nun and filling army canteens with Night Train while on convoys driving a deuce & a half, or on guard duty overnight at the motor pool at Ft Knox in the army reserves.


I Waxed The Badger.
Night Train. When I was in college the local liquor store sold it in one and two bottle pricing, called one way ticket and round trip. As I recall it was $3 for a one way ticket and $5 for the round trip. Mad Dog 20/20 and Boone's Farm was also popular.
Yes, Blue Nun and Mateus rose in Suffolk as a teenager, what was I thinking? Not much really, it was cheap and alcohol(!) You can get Mateus here in Singapore still: a couple of years ago, we had our industry Christmas curry lunch at an Indian restaurant called Maharajah, and one of the guys, for a bet, drank 3 bottles of the stuff. Rather him than me.


Fussy Evil Genius
This past weekend, I got together with a whole bunch of friends who I grew up with, and we got to telling stories. Cheap wine definitely came up. A few of us have children who now have moved out of the house. One told us that he was cleaning out a drawer in his daughter's room, and he came across a half full bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill buried in there. That was worth one heck of a laugh.
Back then... I drank beer... Rolling Rock, Coors, Genesee, Labatts 50, Molson... rather than drinking the fortified wines of the time.
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