Capriccio — a too-sweet bottled mix of carbonated wine and fruit juice — is the “it” drink of summer, the drunken fad that is following in the footsteps of its predecessors: Smirnoff Ice, Zima, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Four Loko. In fact, people on social media are calling Capriccio “Fancy Four Loko,” after the canned alcoholic energy drink that was ultimately banned in several states for its intoxicating mixture of booze, caffeine, taurine (an ingredient in Red Bull) and guarana (a stimulant found in diet pills). Capriccio contains none of those ingredients except for the booze, but it seems to have had a similar effect on people.
In short: It can get you very drunk. Embarrass-yourself drunk. Bad-decisions drunk.
The drink has been distributed in the United States for a few years, but people only really started to notice it when tweets describing the aftermath of Capriccio-fueled nights went viral, compiled by BuzzFeed. “I threw up my guts,” one person said. “I had two Friday and woke up the next morning on the kitchen floor with a chicken tender in my hand,” said another. “Capriccio IS NOT A GAME,” warned one brave soul. It’s “the devil’s blood,” said another.
But the aura of danger that surrounded the drink only made people want it more. It didn’t take long for stores that sell Capriccio to sell out completely. An unverified Twitter account that claims to be the corporate account for the drink has been encouraging people to make bad decisions: “It’s simple guys: if you find some Capriccio Sangria, grab the hell out of me! Stock up, call your momma, tell your friends, maybe text that ex again and become a #CapriccioSangriaLegend.” Given previous accounts of its effects, you proooobablyshouldn’t text your ex — as good of an idea as that might seem under the influence of some Capriccio.
So why does this drink get people so outrageously drunk? It’s because a bottle of Capriccio, which costs only $2.99 at our local World Market, is 375 milliliters, the equivalent of half a bottle of wine. One serving of wine is typically 150 milliliters — but because Capriccio is in a bottle that appears to be a single serving, people glug the whole thing and don’t realize their one drink has been the equivalent of 2½ servings of wine. And Capriccio is strong, too: The alcohol content is 13.9 percent, which is on the high end for wine. The average alcohol by volume for wine is 11.6 percent. It’s also a very sweet drink, so it goes down easy for people who like sugary booze. If you drink two Capriccios and have, say, a shot of tequila to cap off the night, it’s easy to see why you may end up relinquishing the contents of your stomach a few hours later.
But if flavor matters to you — and for many drinkers who are just looking for the most efficient way to get alcohol into their bloodstream, it doesn’t — Capriccio is not your drink. It’s cloyingly sweet and medicinal. Seriously, this is Robitussin in a fruit-printed bottle. We much preferred the flavor of Lolea, a cutely bottled sangria that tastes more like real fruit — not sweeteners — and comes in a smaller serving, with only 7 percent alcohol by volume, a little more than an average beer.
But I suspect that’s not what Capriccio drinkers are looking for. They’re looking for an excuse to get wild — and an easy scapegoat. Drunk-dialed your boss? Made out with your friend? Ate a whole pizza? Blame the Capriccio.