Caldera Red is a variety of wine created by vintners in and around the city of Craterhold. Known for its sweet, half-soured flavor and notable electrolyte content, Caldera Red is best known as the preferred beverage of thirsty Holdsmen soldiers serving the Coalition of Breakaway Colonies on the front lines of the War of Reunification.
Caldera wine begins life as a sweet, brightly-colored port; early Caldera Red is sometimes sold as a desert wine. The wine differs from many other red wines in that, far from considering it a folly, the vintners allow their wine to either partially spoil or cut it with red wine vinegar brewed from the same batch. This makes the wine difficult to drink straight due to its acidic overtones, but this also makes the supply of the wine easier to stretch through the addition of water at the point of drinking. Batches meant to be ready for consumption in the cold of winter may have warming spices added to it to create a mulled wine beverage.
Because a significant portion of each Caldera Red batch is actually vinegar. The drink is a complex blend of sweet and sour flavors which can be intense relative to the drink's relatively average alcohol content. When Holdsmen and Voxelians meet in a situation where the two can't fight for whatever reason (an increasingly rare occurence outside of Burning Hearts pubs or Navigator's Guild halls), the Holdsman enjoy mocking the Voxelians for sweet, 'girly' wines and lack of a palette for the sour Caldera Red. Drinkers typically cut the Caldera Red in up to a one-to-one ratio with water when drinking it. Diluted Caldera Red is considered a relatively safe option as a companion to a Vyozha game running on Mesa Mistake rules. Mixing the wine like this has several beneficial effects:
- The addition of water reduces the pungent nature of the wine, making it much easier to drink quickly.
- Chugging several glasses of diluted Caldera Red to slake thirst is much less dangerous, in terms of alcohol consumption, than attempting to quench thirst with other boozes. Nevertheless, it is still possible to get drunk in this manner.
- The alcohol and acetic acid in the drink reduces the dangers associated with questionable water. This allows the stretching of both water and wine reserves.
- The sugars and electrolytes in the wine make it, in essence, a concentrated form of switchel or sweetened posca. This makes it very refreshing to those exercising hard - as one might be doing on a battlefield.
- On a strictly recreational level, a bottle of Caldera Red which can later be mixed with water is much more convenient in terms of getting enough to get drunk and/or refreshed than lugging around a case of beer or mead.
The specific flavor profile of Caldera Red also makes it a popular ingredient in native Craterhold cuisine, where it frequently appears in the form of vinaigrettes and deglazed sauces. Caldera Red is considered to pair well with beef, venison, and vegetable dishes requiring both sweet and sour notes. Spicy dishes incorporating Caldera Red are known to sneak up on the diner, as the sweetness of the wine 'smuggles' the capsaicin onto the palette.
While Craterhold nobles and upper-class citizens prefer imported wines to Caldera Red, they have created several mixed drinks to pass the summer months with. For example, Caldera Red can be mixed with citrus juices or floating briar core fruit juice, seltzer water, and blocks of ice to create a light drink which has a tendency to dissappear by the glassful at summer soirees.
Consumable, Food / Drink
Caldera Red is aged by the lot, making the drink plentiful throughout the Coalition states and in Craterhold in particular. MartMart International distributes Caldera Red outside of the Coalition states in both pure and pre-mixed forms.