To this day, I cannot tell you exactly what is in a West Coast Cooler. It's described as a "wine cooler". What is that? Is that normal wine, just chilled more? Is it a watered-down wine, or a souped-up wine? Is it coloured? Flavoured? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
This ad, apparently from the early 90s, does little to inform me, except to indicate that West Coast Coolers encouraged big hair, big dance moves and big sunglasses:
Admittedly I'm a teetotaller, so my knowledge of the grape and grain is rather limited. And I don't recall my parents ever having West Coast Coolers in the house, even when they seemed to be the drink de jour in the mid-1980s, so I never smelt or tasted one. By the time I was of an age to go to parties where alcohol was present, the girls tended to go for those Lemon Ruski Stollies that they could swig down by the six-pack before attempting to stand and realising the vodka content had somehow spirited away their sense of balance and decorum. West Coast Coolers seemed a distant, and rather daggy, memory.
My clearest recollection of West Coast Coolers though dates back to the years my family lived on Thursday Island, way up at the pointiest bit of Cape York. My father was the harbour master, and we lived in a ramshackle Queenslander provided for the HM by the state government. It backed onto the local football field. I remember my brother and I would run out to play on it. On Sundays in particular it would be covered in stripey West Coast Cooler bottletops. We used to pick them up and collect them, even turning them into a primitive currency. It was something like 75 WCCs to the Aussie dollar. Until I found an actual, real-life, sharp blue paper ten dollar note, flipping across the field in a strong breeze. Obviously, aged 5, that made me a billionaire, and I gave up WCC collecting to brainstorm ways I could spend my newfound fortune.