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July 25-31, 2007

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Wine Tasting

Bum Wines

By Stett Holbrook is a website dedicated to the appreciation of the subgenre of alcoholic beverage made especially for down-and-out alcoholics, the homeless--or both, as is often the case. These beverages are cheap, powerful and staggeringly foul tasting. The following five twist-cap tipples are the most widely available. The descriptions are provided by the intrepid testers at, especially for what they fondly call "the economical drunkard."

Cisco Red "Everyone who drinks this feels great at first, and claims, 'It's not bad at all. I like it.' But you really do not want to mess around with this one, because they all sing a different tune a few minutes later. And by tune I mean the psychotic ramblings of a raging naked bum."

MD 20/20 "This is a good place to start for the street-wine rookie, but beware; this dog has a bite to back up its bark. 'MD' stands for Mogen David and is affectionately called 'Mad Dog 20/20.' You'll find this beverage as often in a bum's nest as in the rock quarry where the high school kids sneak off to drink."

Night Train "Don't let the 0.5 percent less alcohol by volume fool you, Night Train is all business when it pulls into the station. All aboard to nowhere--whoo-whoo! Night Train runs only one route: sober to stupid with no round-trip tickets available and a strong likelihood of a train wreck along the way."

Wild Irish Rose "The thorn in your hangover is a wild rose from Ireland. Like its brother Cisco, 'Wild I' definitely has some secret additives that go straight to the cranium. Another web page claims that this foul beverage is a conspiracy by the Republicans to kill the homeless."

Thunderbird "If your taste buds are shot and you need to get trashed with a quickness, then 'T-bird' is the drink for you. Or, if you like to smell your hand after pumping gas, look no further than Thunderbird."

Also listed but roundly rejected as not fitting the "bum" profile are Boone's Farm (too little alcohol for grownups makes it better for kids!), Scotland's own Buckfast Tonic Wine (too expensive at 8 euros a bottle), Ripple (seemingly available only in old Sanford and Son reruns) and the walloping 20 percent ABV Bright's Pale Dry Select sherry, which sadly reports is only palatable when mixed with ginger ale and is, unfortunately, native to Canada.

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