Whether you're on vacation, having a weekend staycation, or just want to treat yourself, wine cocktails are a fantastic way to celebrate summer. With so many toothsome fruits in season practically begging to be mixed into a tasty beverage, it's the perfect time to grab some wine, hit the farmers' market, and invite friends over for an evening of relaxing out in the backyard. The key to successfully crafting summertime tipples is simple. Stick to thirst-quenching drinks, fresh ingredients, and tasty combinations and every cocktail you create will be a winner.
Sometimes keeping it light and bright is best. A wine spritzer, which uses wine, soda water, and a piece of fruit to garnish, is a great way to sip on wine throughout the day without getting too tipsy. If a spritzer is too light on the booze for your tastes, adding a touch of vermouth or an orange liqueur is a nice way to not only make a more complex, flavorful drink but also amp up the alcohol content without going overboard. We love a dry rosé or crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc for spritzers. A garnish of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary or lemon verbena, adds a nice touch and an added layer of flavor.
Sangria is the ultimate wine cocktail if you're planning on having a few friends over for a barbecue, garden party, or just because. An all-around crowd-pleaser, it's a great way to make the most of all the gorgeous summer fruits in season. Sangria is a cinch to make, made even easier due to the fact you make it the night before your bash. Just pour your bottle of wine into a large container, add your fruit of choice, some sugar, mix and let it stand overnight in the fridge. When you're ready to serve it the next day, pour your sangria over ice and top it up with soda water or a bit of pop to add some fizz to the mix.
As far as which wines to use, opt for fruity, unoaked, relatively inexpensive wines. Other than that it's entirely up to you! White, red, rose, still, sparkling – customize your sangria to suit your palate. Some of our favorite summery sangria picks:
Stone Fruit Sangria – use Riesling as a base. This is a great opportunity to break out an off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) style.
Watermelon Sangria – rosé all the way!
Berry Sangria – a fruity Spanish wine like Garnacha is perfect.
If you don't have work the next day you can also spike it with your favorite spirit. Your biggest problem with making sangria? Running out!
Similar to a sangria, you can also make a punch using wine, a spirit like vodka, tequila or bourbon, if you're going for a richer flavor, and fresh fruits. Served over ice, it's another easy-to-make drink that's perfect for a crowd.
Stunning Sparkling Wine Cocktails
Prefer to class things up or perhaps you're just looking for something ultra-refreshing to help keep you cool in the dogs days of summer. Enter the sparkling wine cocktail. There are dozens of classic sparkling wine cocktails you can take inspiration from like the Bellini, which uses peach puree and Prosecco, or the Kir Royale which adds a touch of Chambord to a glass of bubbly. Other liqueurs like Cointreau, St. Germain, and limoncello are incredibly satisfying as well. It's a nice way to mix things up and makes a good pairing for many finger food favorites like chicken sliders, skewers, or cheese plates. Again, pick up a budget bottle and save your Champagne for date night.
General guidelines for you to keep in mind when making cocktails:
- Don't use any oaked wines for your cocktail bases. Oak tends to clash with other flavors.
- Save your more expensive bottles for enjoying as they were intended. Inexpensive but fruity wines are your best friend for making wine-based cocktails.
- Use fresh ingredients picked up from your local farmer's market or supermarket when available. Fresh tastes best!
- You can add a touch of your spirit of choice to give your cocktails a bit more of a kick.
- When in doubt, go with like for like flavors for your wine-based cocktails. You can't go wrong with adding lemon, lime or grapefruit to a citrusy wine like Sauvignon Blanc. There's no need to overcomplicate things!
There are endless combinations you can experiment with, so be sure to get creative with your wine cocktails. if you have any favorite recipies of your own, please share in the comments below.
Frank - Owner, We Speak Wine