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Was Wine Used in the Original Coca-Cola Recipe?

You know how much we love Italian wine.

But sometimes, a good wine isn’t quite enough to hit the spot on those hot days when all you want is something cold to give you a burst of energy.

On those days, the legendary Coca-Cola may be your drink of choice.

This gorgeously sweet concoction is the world’s most famous brand of Cola. And while some may favour Pepsi, we lean towards Coke both because of its quality and the traditions behind the company.

But about those traditions…

They’re not exactly as wholesome as Coca-Cola might have you believe.

Perhaps you’re thinking that we’re talking about how Coke is such a popular mixer for a whole host of drinks. 

That isn’t what we’re talking about.

Instead, there’s a deep and interesting history behind Coca-Cola, not all of which is as clean-cut as the image the brand likes to convey today.

The true story of Coca-Cola involves some ingredients that you may not expect.

And of those ingredients is wine!

Of course, we’re not suggesting that there is anything untoward about using wine in a recipe. 

But if you read on, you’ll learn about the less wholesome aspect of Coca-Cola and discover how wine is even a part of the story.

The History

It all started in France.

In the 19th century, some inventive souls had come up with a drink named coca. This drink was made by combining regular alcohol with a substance that, at the time, was used to give people a little more pep in their step…

Cocaine!

This is the less wholesome part of the Coke story that we mentioned earlier. A drug that we consider illicit today was once an ingredient used to make Coca-Cola.

It’s part of the Coke story.

Regardless, this little concoction proved quite popular in France in the 1800s. That popularity is what gave a chemist named Angelo Mariani a bright idea. 

Coca was popular. French wine was popular. What would happen if you took these two popular drinks and mixed them together?

The result was a drink that Angelo named the Vin Mariani. 

And the drink exploded in popularity.

Famous luminaries of the time, including Alexander Dumas, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jules Verne, are all said to have partaken in this strange combination of cocaine and wine. Even Pope Leo XIII was reportedly known to keep a flask of it on his person at all times!

But how does this weird French drink make its way to American shores?

After all, Coca-Cola is an American company, not a French one.

The answer lies in the adventures of a man named Dr. John Pemberton.

An American Civil War veteran, Pemberton has developed an addiction to another drug that was believed to be harmless at the time, as long as it was taken in the right doses. He took morphine regularly to help with an injury he’d sustained in the war.

Pemberton discovered Vin Mariani during a trip to France.

And he decided that he wanted to make a drink just like it.

Branded as French Wine Cola, Pemberton’s drink was pretty much the same as Marianis. However, being something of a snake oil salesman, Pemberton advertised it as a cure-all tonic, most notably as an aphrodisiac. His advertising at the time even referred to Pemberton’s French Wine Cola as “a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs.”

Again, the drink proved popular. 

Even former US President Ulysses S. Grant was known to drink it to help him with the pain caused by his throat cancer. 

But change was afoot for Pemberton.

In 1885, the state of Atlanta implemented temperance legislation that banned the use of alcohol in products like Pemberton’s Cola. Seeing the writing on the wall, and fearing similar action in other states, Pemberton worked hard to create a vision of the drink that contained no alcohol.

That meant losing the wine that was used to make the drink.

But strangely, the story doesn’t end there.

Though Pemberton could no longer use wine to create his cola, he could still use coca.

The combination of cocaine and alcohol was apparently okay with the lawmakers in Atlanta, so coca became part of the new recipe for what became Coca-Cola. 

And it remained until the early years of the 20th century, when the company’s president, Asa Candler, ordered the removal of coca once people became more aware of the damage that cocaine can do.

And it was that move that led to the recipe that we know today.

Interestingly, it is believed the leaf of the plant that cocaine comes from is still used in the production of Coca-Cola. However, all traces of cocaine are removed from the leaf before use, ensuring no illicit drugs find their way into the modern recipe.

Still, it’s interesting to see the origins of such a popular drink.

The Final Word

So, wine was once part of the Coca-Cola recipe…

Sort of.

By the time the drink had that name, the wine had been removed. In fact, the rebranding to Coca-Cola was done because Pemberton could no longer use the previous name of French Wine Coca.

Still, it’s clear that wine plays a crucial role in the Coca-Cola story. And of course, that means it also plays a role in the creation of every cola that has come since Pemberton’s (and Mariani’s) original drink.

Of course, wine is no longer a part of the Coca-Cola recipe.

Neither is cocaine, for the record.

That means you don’t have to worry about the possibility of getting tipsy the next time you crack open a coke. Just make sure you avoid the sugar rush that comes from drinking a little too much.

That rush can hit as hard as a hangover.

And of course, we’re here to help you with your wine needs if you’ve decided you want something a little strong than Coca-Cola. Check out our catalogue of wines from all over the world today and we’re sure you’ll find something to enjoy.

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