Fortified Wine: Five Flavors Of Danger 'Liquid Crack'

Should Be Pulled From Shelves By Liquor Stores

November 25, 1990|By Huntley J. Cross

There is a product that can be found in many Anne Arundel County liquor stores that I believe is dangerous and a threat to anyone who mistakes it for a wine cooler.

This product is a fortified wine, which has a labeled alcohol content of 20 percent by volume (40 proof). Wine coolers have an alcohol content that ranges from 4 percent to 7 percent. Regular table wines average about 12 percent alcohol.

Fortified wine, or "Cisco," comes in five flavors: red, peach, orange, berry and gold. It is bottled in two sizes: 375 and 750 milliliters. The 375-milliliter bottle is sold as single bottles rather than in four-packs like most other wine coolers.

Generally, Cisco ranges in price from $1.50 for the small bottle to $2.50 for the larger one, though many stores sell it at a lower price.

This product is sung about in rap music, and is known on the street as "liquid crack."

According to the National Council on Alcoholic & Drug Dependency: "A bottle of Cisco about the size of a soft drink contains the equivalent of five shots of vodka."

The NCADD also says that consumption of a single 375-milliliter bottle of Cisco within one hour by a person weighing 150 pounds or less will result in a blood alcohol content level of .11, over the legal limit for driving while intoxicated in every state except Georgia.

Consumption of two 375-milliliter bottles of Cisco within in one hour by a person weighing 100 pounds or less may cause death due to acute alcohol poisoning.

This product poses a serious threat to wine cooler drinkers, usually women and underage drinkers. I have requested that Anne Arundel County liquor stores voluntarily remove this product from their shelves.

The accidental death in late August of a teen-ager in Vasalia, Calif., has been linked to drinking Cisco.

Hopefully, through public awareness and understanding, we can prevent such a tragedy from becoming a reality in our community.

Huntley J. Cross is director of the Anne Arundel County Drug and Alcohol Program.

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