Supposedly French Liquor Is Merde

NUVO Sparkling Liqueur

NUVO Sparkling Liqueur

I Paid: $29.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1 stars

Marketing: 5 stars

A 30-proof beverage described as "a perfect nectar of French white wine, ultra-premium French vodka, French sparkling wine, exotic fruit flavors, and a touch of carbonation," NUVO was created by a guy named Raphael Yakoby in partnership with the spirits conglomerate Diageo. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this appears to be a rare case of "French-washing."

I pulled out my bottle of NUVO ("L'Esprit de Paris") at a gathering of dudes, and it provoked reactions ranging from stunned wonder to jocular contempt. This pink liqueur comes in a bottle that is somehow simultaneously evocative of a lipstick applicator, a fancy shoe, and perfume. It's trying with such passionate conviction to look girly, I was secretly hoping it would pull the liquor equivalent of cross-dressing and pack the smoky wallop of a good Highland Scotch.

No such luck.

Rather than inspiring murmurs of delight, NUVO had our tasters exclaiming, "BLEARGH," "DUDE," and "OOF" in disgust, as they shoved their glasses aside. You're probably wondering: Why did I taste this girly product with a bunch of straight dudes? Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to test it with women? My thinking was: The dudes would not be swayed by the marketing to like NUVO more than it deserved. And it did not deserve much, particularly when you consider that this stuff is priced as much as a really good bottle of wine. It distinctly tasted like gummy bears dissolved in lightly carbonated lemon Pledge sweetened with aspartame.

Oh, and the slogan? Calling this stuff "the spirit of Paris" is the equivalent of spitting on a day-old gyro and calling it "the spirit of New York." But NUVO does get points for the packaging, which is both incredibly striking and incredibly coherent—you know exactly what it's supposed to be, and who is supposed to buy it. Just don't buy it if you want something that actually tastes good.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.