Pros: Full Concord grape taste. Good structure for a sweet beverage.
Cons: Too sweet for sipping.
As sparkling wines go, Gallo's André label is the bottom of the market.
The Cold Duck's packaging, like that of the other André wines, is over-the-top tacky--so much foil is simply a waste--and its label is inadvertently comical. There's no such thing as "American Champagne"--Gallo doesn't even make this in Champaign, IL--let alone "American Sparkling Burgundy". (I couldn't find a city or county of Burgundy in the U.S., either!) The continuing use of "semi-generic" names can be read between the lines as "we're not going to tell you, but we think you're a rube, so we're going to try to dazzle you". What Gallo will tell us, however, is that André Cold Duck is "Naturally Fermented", as though we were suspecting it was a mix of Five Alive, tequila, and miniature marshmallows. I wasn't worried. Perhaps I should be--topping this off is advertisement of an award from ChefsBest--the same institute that considers Wild Vines among the best...something...in America.
Getting past this silliness, however, and considering André Cold Duck, perhaps the last Cold Duck left on the market, as a party beverage for the most informal of cookouts, one has to admit, it isn't bad. It's certainly better than Arbor Mist, Wild Vines, and Verdi Spumante (a Zima-like malt beverage masquerading as wine); it's closer to Riunite Lambrusco, both in that it is a grape wine and in that it would be better were its residual sugar content to be at least halved.
Often described--incorrectly, bombastically--as "sticky", it's not as sweet as port, cream sherry, Concord grape juice, orange pop, or Pepsi. It's more like Miller High Life, but with better structure; maybe this "American Champagne", the Miller of wines, is what Miller had in mind when they called their product the "Champagne of Beers." Its sugar content puts it into the sweet wine category but ample acidity and carbonation (manifesting itself as small but plentiful bubbles) lend it needed structure. Its flavor is pure, highly aromatic Concord grape. I'd say "jammy" but that's a cliché and moreover it's stronger, seemingly more extracted (although I know that cannot be) than Concord grape jam, very pleasant for those who like that fruit, and I imagine approachable for guests who find wine's lack of resemblance to American table grapes puzzling.
Semidry still Catawba wines convinced me that someone should try showing off the aromatic qualities of Vitis labrusca and other American grapes in a dry table wine. André Cold Duck is the beginning of a case for a blended sparkler. Its sweetness makes it unsuitable for anything but dessert or ice-cold consumption at cookouts; unlike Riunite Lambrusco there is no drier alternative. Gulp a glass with a cheeseburger or, better yet, a hot dog made in the Chicago style with onions, tomato, sweet-tart green relish, sport peppers, a pickle spear, mustard, and celery salt.