It's Pumpkininny! Nature's Nectar Sparkling Pumpkin Cider (Aldi)

A blurry image of Nature's Nectar Sparkling Pumpkin Cider, from Aldi
Sparkling pumpkin cider? Hmm...interesting.

My wife and I actually stumbled on this at Aldi, simply because someone put it in the wrong space.  Since we were in a hurry, I don’t know that we would have seen it otherwise, but after a brief discussion, we decided to give it a shot, not really knowing what to expect.  After all, my only previous experience with pumpkin in liquid form was a six-pack of limited edition Woodchuck Pumpkin cider that we bought a couple years back, the first year they offered it.  We still have two bottles in our refrigerator, if that tells you what we thought of it.

The bottle is rather coolly designed, with a nifty little pop top that can be resecured to seal in freshness.  Honestly, it reminds me a lot of a wine bottle, and I’m wondering why more wine bottles don’t use this technology.  Instead of a cork, it’s a little piece made of plastic and rubber that fits right in the bottle top, and it’s secured shut by pushing down on a piece of metal, which is already attached to the bottleneck.  Not sure how well it keeps in freshness, as I’ve only had the bottle two days, but it’s pretty nifty.

After figuring out how to open it (a process that surprisingly only took us a minute), we immediately took to sniffing the liquid, and I think both of our hearts sank.  It smells rather disgusting; an unflattering mix of pumpkin, with a rather faint aroma of cinnamon and other spices.  After one whiff, we were already second-guessing our decision to buy it.  Nevertheless, we cast aside our reservations, and forced down a drink…

Maybe it just caught me at the right time, but it was much better than I expected.  Now, it’s nothing that I could drink all the time--I doubt I could even drink it twice in a year--but as a little fall-time treat, it’s definitely not bad.  Since it’s “sparkling”, there is obviously some carbonation in there, which I think gives it a little kick that would be otherwise missing in a flat cider.  There is the distinct taste of pumpkin, which threatens to take it into bitter territory, but it is evened out by the cinnamon “and other spices” (according to the label).  Personally, despite the label’s specific instructions to serve chilled, I actually thought it tasted better at room temperature, as to me, the spices seemed to come out more.  Chilled, it was a little stronger, and not quite as good, but that might just be a matter of personal preference.

As I sip it now, it does get real tiring real quick, but the ideas for such a beverage are already running through my head.  It would be interesting to try it heated, or perhaps in a hot cocoa.  Even though it’s carbonated, the carbonation isn’t very strong at all, and I think the fall flavors would work perfectly in such a drink.  Maybe adding a splash in a glass of Disaronno would be a rather interesting way to use it in alcohol.  Thanks to the spices, I really think there could be many applicable uses besides drinking it straight up.

In my last review for Belmont’s Pumpkin Supreme Pie, which under whelmed me, I mentioned that I would have been more satisfied if the pie had tried to be something different, and failed miserably.  This is something that certainly fits that frame of mind, yet the fact it doesn‘t fail at all is just the icing on the proverbial cake.  I wouldn’t doubt that pumpkin cider is widely available at supermarkets this time of year, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it, and at $1.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle (which, trust me, is more than enough to experiment with) it’s a pretty affordable addition to your fall-time beverage arsenal.

Overall: 6.5/10.  Its mix of spices and pumpkin get pretty old real quick, assuming you just sit and sip it, but as a mixer, the possibilities feel pretty endless.  There’s a nice blend of spices (including cinnamon), along with some apple juice (which I couldn’t really taste, as there‘s nothing sweet about this drink), and a noticeable flavor of pumpkin that really does give it a perfect fall-time feel.  It may not completely replace apple cider as your drink of choice for the season, but this is definitely something worth trying every now and again when you’re in the mood for something different.  The $1.99 price tag (for a glass, resealable 16.9 oz. bottle that looks even larger than that) represents some really good value, as well.  Definitely recommended for those that are in the mood for something outside of the norm for this time of year.