Wray & Nephew Red Label Aperitif 13.5 abv
Fine wine can bring images of Italian vineyards, Greek gods or possibly French charcuterie boards, not the Caribbean shores of Jamaica. Nevertheless, Red Label Aperitif is Jamaica’s best selling wine and has been popular since the ‘70s.
Branded with the generous title of ‘Dancehall Hero’, this wine immediately sounded like a lot of fun, so I had to pull it down from the dusty shelf it resided on and bring it into the warmth of my boudoir. I knew it wouldn’t be considered sophisticated in a wine collector’s closet, but who would subject alcohol to rot like corpses in a shared wooden tomb?
Red Label Aperitif’s container is similar to a cheap vodka bottle, whereas the label is reminiscent of a vintage cola. The colour is a dark browny-red and the smell bursts with cherries. There’s a slight chemical side effect but it’s very much likened to the smell of Amaretto and Kipling’s cakes. I imagine Jamaican men carrying this sweet-smelling apéritif with their shirts undone on some sparse beach.
The taste doesn’t differ from the smell. The texture is smooth and light with a mélange of ultra-sweet cherries and marzipan. It is by far the sweetest wine-based drink I have ever tasted, even beating the teenage dream, Lambrini.
This isn’t a cheap drink, though, as I bought it for £10. The thing that makes this bottle more mysterious, however, is that it’s hard to find further information than what it says on the bottle. We can only imagine what this aromatised drink is made out of.
I enjoyed this neat with a side dish of sweet chilli spreadable cheese and Melba toast.