Sunday, February 22, 2009

Grapefruit Soda

I'm not a daily soda drinker, but I do like the stuff. When I drink it, usually around lunchtime on the weekends, my preference is for brands in small glass bottles and made with cane sugar instead of HFCS when possible. Grapefruit soda has a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness.

In college, I was a big fan of Squirt. These days, my typical go-tos are Ting and Villa Italia from Trader Joe's. Previously I enjoyed the canned "Pompelmo" Italian soda from Trader Joe's but it is no longer sold. Grapefruit soda is an essential ingredient to a Paloma - a refreshing highball made with tequila and lime in addition to the soda.

I assembled 7 sodas and conducted a blind tasting to evaluate my preferences.

1. Villia Italia (Italy, Trader Joe's)
2. Whole Foods Natural Pink Grapefruit Soda (Italy)
3. Ting (Jamaica)
4. Penafiel Toronja (Mexico)
5. Squirt (US)
6. Filbert's (US)
7. Fizzy Lizzy Lone Star Grapefruit (US)

Two of these sodas were pink, the Whole Foods and the Fizzy Lizzy, the rest were a cloudy whitish color. Tasting notes follow:

Villa Italia - Cloudy yellow. Nice grapefruit aromas and flavors. Nice finish.

Whole Foods - Cloudy pink. Nice and bitter. Fairly sweet with a berry/candy element to it.

Ting - Cloudy yellow. Not a lot on the initial nosing, but has a nice flavor with some tang. A nice grapefruity finish.

Penafiel Toronja - Cloudy white. Holy moly is this sweet with no real grapefruit flavors going on. Abysmal.

Squirt - Cloudy white. Light in flavor, not a lot of bitterness, but nice flavors and a decent finish. Some grapefruit character here.

Filberts - Better than the Penafiel, but this tastes sweet with no real grapefruit character.

Fizzy Lizzy - Murky reddish pink. Smells of grapefruit concentrate and tastes the same. I do not like the taste of grapefruit juice from concentrate.

Ratings and Overall Impressions

*** First Overall ***
Villa Italia
This has a lot of grapefruit character and the best overall balance of sweet and tart. 10% juice.

** Second Place **
This tasted a little more processed, but hadnice grapefruit flavors and good bitterness. 6% juice.

* Third Place *
Whole Foods
Had good grapefruit flavors along with some candied berry notes. 12% juice.

Fourth Place
Lighter in flavors, but some good grapefruit bitterness on the finish. 1% juice.

The Rest
I found this acceptable, but not a lot of character
Fizzy Lizzy
I found this too reminiscent of grapefruit juice concentrate which I do not like. Do not recommend. 70% juice.
Penafiel Toronja
Awful, just awful. Super sticky sweet with no grapefruit flavors or bitterness. Totally lacking in any sort of balance. Do not recommend.

Final Notes - I'm not surprised that the Villa Italia was the leader in this tasting. It's my go-to house brand for good reason. One surprise was that the Squirt did as well as it did. I expected with all of the more boutiquey sodas that it would not show well, but although 4th overall, I found it to be quite enjoyable with a nice bitterness and would definitely recommend it as a respectable grapefruit soda. For making a Paloma (one of my favorite uses for grapefruit soda), my recommendations would be Villa Italia, Ting and Squirt (I like my Paloma non-pink).

1 comment:

  1. Editor's note: Not long after this post was published, Trader Joe's discontinued carrying the Villa Italia grapefruit soda. I thought that it would be lost to me forever, but noticed that they now have it back in stock (as of last week).