The package arrived at my desk, and it simply indicated that it came from New Jersey. New Jersey! Well, I know good stuff can come from strange, exotic far off places, and New Jersey certainly fills that bill. I opened the outer carton and inside was another carton. It was a crude dinged and dented carton, poorly hand wrapped and bound by stressed black tape, and immediately the alarm bells went off in my head. It was a bomb! It had to be a bomb. It looked like it had been hand wrapped in Afghanistan by a blind novice terrorist who was missing half his fingers and then trampled by his three-legged mule on the way to the post office. But, it hadn’t blown up yet, and with any luck this terrorist studied in the same place as that luckless shoe bomber and the aborted underwear bomber and the failed Times Square bomber. If this baby doesn’t blow up, this guy will become known as the botched booze bomber.

Thankfully, though, it wasn’t a bomb. I gingerly lifted the bottle from its cradle of styrofoam peanuts to discover it didn’t have a label! The suspense continued. I lifted it to the light and peered in. Whatever it was, it was pinkish red and cloudy like unfiltered wine. What could this possibly be I pondered? I put the bottle down and rooted around for a note or letter or something from some PR company or even a ransom note or threat but there was nothing. AHA, I jumped to the insane assumption that this was some kind of fiendishly devised test of my tasting abilities sent to me by some jealous rival or by my psychotic editor. I was going to be evaluated on my ability, not only to tell if it was good, bad or ugly, but what in the hell it was. Or it could be poison. Everyone I’ve mentioned up to this point could be a suspect – all of them! I could not let this deter me from the task at hand. So, filled with great trepidation I gingerly picked the bottle back up. As I rotated it the back label rolled into view. EPIPHANY! It was labeled Vodgria! What in the hell is Vodgria? It went on to reveal it was from Sin Spirits and distilled in Temperance, Michigan. REALLY?!? Now, granted I’m a pretty fair writer but not even I could make this shit up. Was there no end to this mystery?

After some research on the Internet I discovered that this really is Vodgria by Sin Spirits, a New Jersey enterprise and it is in fact distilled in Temperance, Michigan. Turns out Vodgria is a sangria infused vodka. Now that I was assured it wouldn’t blow up or poison me, I opened the bottle. It was effervescent and wafted into the nose sweet and fruity with some bright acidic high notes that accented the sweetness nicely. The fruitiness was candy coated but not so much as to make you think this was fructose sweetened fruit juice. Besides, underneath all that sweetness was the unmistakable smell of vodka punctuating every breath I inhaled. It smelled like a mixed drink straight out of the bottle. The fruit was not overpowering, nor was the sugar, and it was pleasantly balanced by the vodka.

Traditional Sangria is made with wine (champagne on special occasions) and various fruit and other sweet goodies and is a mélange of flavors. When you mix numerous fresh ingredients and combine them just before serving you get a flavor profile that includes very distinct tastes of all the ingredients within the mixture, plus an overall impression of the combination. With this pre-mix, Vodgria, is an out of the bottle mélange all by itself that manages to maintain a bit of a blurry distinction of the individual ingredients.

So far I have only used the word “sweet” 6 times and I doubt I can stop there. This sweet mixture must be squarely aimed at the 21-31 demographic as this old fart definitely found it to be a bit sweet.

It is surprisingly smooth, but that’s because it is only 30 proof or 15% alcohol. That makes it the same average strength as wine. Regular vodka is normally between 80 and 100 proof (40%-50% alcohol). Consequently, it packs the same punch as traditional Sangria made with wine.

Straight out of the bottle is obviously not the way to drink this unless you have it snugly wrapped in a brown paper bag while you sprawl idly on the sidewalk just outside your favorite liquor store and ogle the passersby. However, I did taste it straight up and was pleasantly surprised. I then poured it over some ice and woke it up and enjoyed it a bit more as the syrupy content expanded to its fuller potential. If I were in my 20’s, I would have appreciated it that much more. All you young party people out there should try a bottle. Just make sure it has a label first.