Kalimotxo: Why Red Wine and Coke Tastes So Damn Good

Jack Hughes 24 April 2019
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As the days grow longer and temperatures (hopefully!!) rise, the promise of a sundowner drink seems irresistible. A frothy pint of lager, a chilled glass of white wine – nothing quite beats those drinks that conjure up memories of long summer nights and hopes of many more to come. Here is a new drink to add to your repertoire: the Kalimotxo.

Kalimotxo (pronounced ‘calimocho’) is simply a mixture of cheap red wine and cola, a favourite in the Basque region of Spain. At first glance, the combination of wine and cola may sound strange however the ingredients list belies the smooth, quaffable nature of this drink. Be careful, it is addictive! With cheap red wine, there is always the problem of bitterness, and cola suffers from being too sugary at times – served on the rocks, both ingredients come together in such a way to form a wine cocktail that is perfect in its bittersweet roundedness.

Kalimotxo originates from the Old Port of Algorta in the Basque region of Spain. Although the mix of red wine and cola existed in Spain from the 1920s, it was not until the establishment of the first Coca Cola factory in Spain in 1953 that the mixture became a drink of the people. At this point in time, it was labelled Rioja Libre or Cuba Libre del Pobre (Cuba Libre of the Poor).

The name Kalimotxo was coined later in 1972 during the St. Nicholas festival at the Old Port of Algorta. The group who oversaw the organisation of the celebration had brought with them 2,000 litres of red wine but it tasted horrible. In a bid to sell the bad wine, they tried to cover its taste with Coca Cola. It was a big hit! They then named it after two friends of the group known as ‘’Kalimero’’ and ‘’Motxo’’. Kalimotxo was born.

The drink’s popularity began to increase, and it was not long before it found its way across the world. In Chile, the drink is known as jote (Chilean Spanish for the black vulture), in Romania, it is often called motorină (Romanian for diesel fuel), and in Germany, it is known as Groko (an abbreviation meaning ‘big coalition’). Today it is popular all around the globe, no more so than in its homeland of Spain, where you’ll find young people making up the drink in carrier bags.

This really ought to be the drink of Summer 2019. It is refreshing, smooth, easy, and cheap. You can make it in a more refined manner but the recipe below is the way that many locals make it in Spain and the way that I prefer.



1 2l bottle of cola

1 750ml bottle cheap red wine


Open the bottle of cola and pour half of it out. Open the bottle of red wine and pour into the cola bottle. Shake gently to mix and then pour into glasses (filled with ice if possible!).