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Answered 2008-04-30 12:07:40

Flavored malt beverages, such as Mike's Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, Zima, Sparks, etc. are malt-based drinks. Although the malt is an artificial sucrose-based malt, this gives them the ability to be sold under the beer category, mainly for tax purposes, plus the companies realized the faster growth potential for smaller serving-size fruity drinks in a beer setting, as opposed to the wine cooler craze of the 80s. Wine coolers, though, are wine-based drinks. They are essentially fortified wine with CO2 and other fruit flavors added. Because of the grape-base for these drinks, they are taxed as wine. There are also RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails such as Jack Daniels coolers and Kahlua cocktails, etc. These are pre-mixed, liquor-based drinks that are sold under the same tax category as hard spirits. (source: more than a decade working in the alcohol industry...)

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