First developed in France, Quinquina (pronounced 'ka-kina') is a Tonic Wine. It is a sweet wine that has had a dosage of quinine added, just like Tonic Water is sweetened water with quinine added. To add to the confusion, it is also frequently also called a 'Kina'.
Until 1946, quinine was the most effective treatment against malaria. During the ages of empire, the British response to malaria was the provide Tonic Water to its soldiers aboard, while in France, Tonic Wine, or Quinquina, was the treatment of choice. Quinine is also what makes both drinks bitter.
Typically, Quinquinas are made with a base wine of mistelle (unfermented and fortified grape juice) that has had quinine, and other botanicals added for flavour and their medicinal properties, along with sugar to balance out quinine's bitterness. Quinquina are usually 18%-20 Alc./Vol.
Our Kina-Rouge is the first Quinquina style wine made in Canada since World War 2!
But why is something so delicious not been made in Canada for so long?
During WWII, many businesses had to pivot to support the war effort and struggled to recover when the war ended. While Quinquina was the popular choice to treat malaria and other 'fevers', it fell out of favor in 1946 when a synthetic and more effective version was created; Hydroxychloroquine. Additionally with a greater understanding of how to treat 'fevers, quinine and it's tonic drinks were simply no longer needed. Yet, instead of letting Tonic Water disappear, the world’s largest tonic manufacturer, Schweppes, launched a huge marketing campaign promoting the Gin & Tonic as a means of keeping Tonic Water production going and growing. It worked and popularized Tonic Water to where it is today.
Yet the producers behind the Quinquina brands never launched such a successful campaign and outside of France, most international Quinquina brands ceased production. Only a small handful are still made today and even fewer export outside of France.
Today, we’ve grown to love the taste of bitter - and Tonic Wine, or Quinquina is a forgotten, yet wonderful delight that has been collecting dust on the bottom of liquor store shelves for years. One of a few Quinquina’s we can actually buy here in Canada is Dubonnet - it’s an incredible drink and yet for some bizarre reason, nobody seems to drink it!
So what did we decide to do when we learned about this delicious category of drink nobody seems to care about? We made our Kina-Rouge! A love letter to Dubonnet and the category of Quinquina.
Enjoy over ice with a splash of gin and a twist of lemon; as the Queen Mother prefers.