Wine cocktails have gotten a bad rap for years. Blame it on the gold-wrapped wine coolers that sat in your parents’ fridge for most of the ‘80s. Wine, however, has been a base for cocktails since the beginning, and it’s making a resurgence as craft cocktails are getting crazier and mixologists more and more creative.
In Europe, the wine cooler stigma never stuck. They’ve been sipping on wine cocktails this whole time, especially as the weather warms up during the summer months. Here are some favorites.
El Tinto de Verano from Spain
The Spanish are known for their siestas, without a doubt, and the hot summer days that plague the country – especially in the South – keep everyone inside often. But when Spaniards come outside, they tend to have some form of wine in their hand. When the heat is too much for a red-hot Rioja, they add a little soda to cool it down. Tinto de verano is the soda-wine concoction that cools locals and literally means “red wine of summer.”
POUR yourself a decent sized glass of red wine (a large tumbler works better than a wine glass).
ADD ice cubes and a squeeze of lemon.
TOP it off with a splash of lemon lime soda (Sprite or 7-Up will do) and stir for just a second.
SIP, savor and tell me you don’t feel instantly refreshed.
Fröccs from Hungary
Fröccs (pronounced “frutch”) is essentially a glass of wine with varying amounts of added soda water. This concoction is a Hungarian summer tradition, and it can be prepared in a number of different ways – simply by changing the wine-to-soda ratio. From sportfröccs, with a 1 to 4 ratio, to avasi fröccs, with a 7 to 3 ratio, you can tailor your fröccs to your desired level of silliness.
For maflás (“silly”) fröccs:
FILL a wine glass halfway with a dry white or rosé (if you can find a Hungarian wine, even better!).
TOP with chilled soda water to finish.
Rossini from Italy
Thanks to the Italians, we have mimosas and martinis and bellinis. We also have Italy to thank for this summer refreshment that combines bubbles with strawberry purée. Seasonal and easy to make, this cocktail might have to take center stage at your next al-fresco brunch.
COMBINE 2 cups of roughly chopped strawberries with 2 tbsps sugar in a small bowl.
ALLOW to sit for an hour.
PURÉE strawberries in a blender and add one tablespoon to each glass.
TOP off with Prosecco and give it a quick stir.
Kir Royale from France
Though the Italians brought us many a cocktail, the French are the masters of the Champagne cocktail. And the blackcurrant liqueur gives it just a touch of color and flavor. Make this bubbly delight as the sun is setting after a long, hot day. The trick is to add just a touch of creme de cassis so it’s not too sweet.
POUR ¼ oz Chambord into a Champagne flute.
FILL the glass with Champagne. Done.
White Port and Tonic from Portugal
White port is a summer favorite in Portugal – sweet or dry. During the season, this wine is most popular when served with tonic over ice to stave off some of that Iberian Peninsula heat. It might be refreshing enough to make you give up gin forever.
POUR 3 oz white port over ice and add tonic to fill your glass.
SIP outside, and then have another.
Süssgespritzter from Germany
To make a spritzer that has just the right amount of summer sweetness, Germans decided to create the wine version of a shandy. The addition of a bubbly lemonade to a refreshing glass of German wine makes so much sense for summer, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been doing this all along.
FILL your glass three-quarters full with the dry white wine of your choice.
ADD a fizzy lemonade to fill. For best results, repeat until sundown.