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Wine connoisseurs are chugging back a ‘Forty Ounce’ of this

Move over, beer: Wine now offered in 'Forty Ounce' bottles

​Jienna Basaldu, sommelier and manager at 58 Degrees in Sacramento, taste-tests Forty Ounce Wines' rose and muscadet.
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​Jienna Basaldu, sommelier and manager at 58 Degrees in Sacramento, taste-tests Forty Ounce Wines' rose and muscadet.

Can it be that the 40 ounce bottle was just gentrified?

This elongated, oversized bottle is normally the hallmark of malt liquor found in corner convenience stores. But twist the cap and you’ll find adult beverages better suited for brunching, rather than a scene from “Boyz n the Hood.”

Forty Ounce brand wines fill a bottle otherwise suited for Olde English 800 with the more highbrow rosé and Muscadet. And they’ve become especially popular around Sacramento wine drinking circles, to the point that supplies are running low. Forty Ounce wines are also omnipresent on social media, where a pull of rosé straight from the bottle makes for a choice Instagram photo.

As wines are increasingly packaged in more novel containers, such as “tall boy” aluminum cans and various Tetra Pak cartons, these Forty Ounce wines certainly make a cheeky statement. But what’s actually inside the bottle – and more importantly, how do they taste?

Here are six things to know before you pop open a Forty Ounce wine and share a picture of you slugging it:

1. There’s actually less than 40 ounces in the bottle: Technically, these malt liquor-shaped containers hold a liter of wine, or about 33.8 ounces. The Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau (TTB) has strict limits about packaging regulations for wine, and 40 ounce wine bottles are not approved by the TTB.

Forty ounces of wine would be the equivalent of about 1.2 liters. The “Forty Ounce” brand therefore applies more to the look and feel of the bottle, instead of an exact measurement. Figure that “Forty Ounce” wines hold slightly less than seven glasses of wine.

2. Forty Ounce wines are French: Julien Braud is the producer of these wines that hail from France’s Loire region. The Muscadet is 100 percent melon de bourgogne, the white grape from which Muscadet is made. In the most technical terms, this guzzler of a Muscadet hails from the French appellation of Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine.

The rosé’s grapes meanwhile are sourced from the Touraine and Muscadet appellations. The salmon-pink colored wine is a blend of 58 percent Gamay, 33 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet franc and a four percent pinch of pineau d’aunis.

3. Muscadet is not moscato: Those who pop the cap on Forty Ounce Muscadet and expect a swig of something sweet are in for a surprise. Moscato, known for its concentrated fruitiness and often containing a bit of residual sugar, is very different on the flavor spectrum as the dry style of Muscadet. Think of it as the difference between orange juice and orange flavored La Croix sparkling water.

4. Forty Ounce wines are more potent than malt liquor: St. Ides, the malt liquor staple otherwise known as “Crooked I,” carries an 8.2 percentage of alcohol by volume. Olde English 800, another malt liquor fixture, is bottled at two different alcohol by volume levels: 5.9 percent and 7.5 percent. But all of these alcohol levels are less than those found in Forty Ounce wines, which clock in at 12 percent for the Muscadet and 12.5 percent for the rosé. These alcohol percentages rank overall on the medium side for wine potency.

5. Forty Ounce wines are getting hard to find locally: The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op is a main spot to score Forty Ounce wines, but they tend to go fast. The store ran out of Forty Once rosé in early May and doesn’t expect another shipment for a couple months since the wine is made in fairly small amounts. Forty Ounce Muscadet is still available for $14.99 per bottle, but the number of cases in stock is dwindling.

6. They taste better than you’d expect: Those thinking they’re in for a high-octane taste, like the wine equivalent of St. Ides, are in for a surprise. Forty Ounce Muscadet is a fairly refreshing drink with bright acidity, citrus flavors and a touch of salinity that makes it a solid match for seafood.

The rosé is fairly fruit forward for the style, with a pronounced strawberry essence and touch of sweetness. This rosé won’t exactly rock your world, but in the grand scheme of things, we’ll take it any day over Olde English 800.

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias

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