Some of you may not have heard about goon, I certainty hadn’t until I visited Australia recently. In all honesty I thought it was a derogative term used to describe unintelligent people, but in Australia it is ‘wine’ that is sold in-a-bag-in-a-box. Now you may not think this is special, I mean we have wine in boxes here, so what? Well not only do they come in massive boxes (up to five litres in a bag) they are also barely recognisable as wine – in fact I didn’t meet anyone who could actually tell me whether it was actually made out of fermented grape juice.
However I think this is part of the charm when it comes to goon. Just to make one thing clear, I was in Australia on serious wine related work and only discovered goon from some of my crazy Sydney friends. I didn’t travel to Australia with the intention of writing an article on goon.
Goon has taken on a bit of a student cult following, and has a reputation for making you do crazy things that you will undoubtedly regret the next day; I heard many stories of various public acts that were performed whilst under the influence (I will leave it up to your imagination, but whatever you think I assure you the reality is worse). One of the selling factors for students is once the liquid in the bag has been consumed the empty bag can be blown up and used as a pillow, very useful if you have just consumed five litres of non-descript alcohol.
Now on to the price, and probably the main reason for the cult following. For example a schooner of beer (less than a pint) is about £4-6, a bottle of Australian wine such as Wolf Blass (available here for about £8) will be about £11-13 a bottle. Now a three litre goon sack/bag/box will be anything from £4.50, as they say do the maths! I have no idea how they sell the stuff so cheaply, especially with the exorbitant alcohol taxes in Australia, but they manage it and this is great for broke students.
Now what does it taste like? Well I only had the privilege of trying 2 brands in red and white. Both of them were equally bad and resulted in unspeakable hangovers, all in all I thought the whites held up better than the reds, this was more to do with cloth staining rather than the taste because all of them were nothing short of terrible. I thought us Brits were bad, but I most certainly couldn’t put my body through drinking that stuff on a daily basis. I don’t mind a hangover and I don’t mind occasionally drinking cheap plonk, but the monster hangover and the sheer pangs of regret the next day make it really not worth it.
There are various games that can be played with goon, the most notable one is ‘goon of fortune’ which is when the goon bag or bags are attached to a rotating washing line and it is spun round, whoever it lands on has to drink. There is ‘goon door’ where if someone passes through a designated doorway they have to endure 9 seconds of goon being poured into their mouth. As you can imagine there are hundreds of variations, some ranging from the absurd to just plain dangerous. The question I have is why do these drinks not exist in England? Surely our students would love to sample the lovely goon goodness at our universities, although it is a sure fire way to increase University dropout rates, public disorder and hospital visits. Perhaps it is not the best idea, even though part of me feels I missed out on the goon experience at university. I feel a campaign to bring goon to this country is in order.
Next week I will be looking at some serious wine from Chablis Premier Cru, through to the classic Tim Adams Riesling.
Phil is the wine Guru at SloshBox wine you can check out more of his articles and buy great wine at www.SloshBoxWine.co.uk