In recent years, wine spritzers have been the source of much mockery. They have been mercilessly pegged as a beverage fit only for non-drinkers, the least adventurous of soccer moms and those whose love of bubbles trumps their love of wine itself.
We are here to tell you a few facts that may change your view of spritzers. This much maligned libation may be perceived as a waste of wine here in the land of the free, but over in Eastern Europe, spritzers are the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees and the jams… all good things.
That’s right, in even the roughest and tumbliest parts of what was once the Eastern Bloc, drinking spritzers is about as common as drinking wine on its own. From Brno to Budapest to Bratislava and all the tiny villages in between, spritzers are on the menus, tables and minds of all those with a thirst to quench, not just soccer moms or nervous teens. Spritzers are the real deal. Why??
First off, wine plays a different role in Eastern European cultures than it does in the West. On this difference Stetson Robbins of Blue Danube Wines says “they view wine as less precious. It’s just part of the table, like bread. I think in Central and Eastern Europe this quality is even stronger.” Well, there you have it.
In many countries farther East, wine is appreciated for its functionality as much as its taste and sophistication. More than anything, it is there to quench thirst, complement food and contribute to the overall experience of a meal or a working day. With that mindset, if putting water in your wine makes it quench thirst, last longer and sip easier, isn’t that a great thing? The drinkers of Eastern Europe seem to think so.
Plus, wine spritzers taste different and “work” better in Eastern Europe because the wines from that area have different flavor profiles altogether. Those flavor profiles just so happen to be very well complemented by a dash of seltzer or even straight water.
Many wines you’ll find around Georgia, Croatia or Slovenia are full of very strong, less conventional and beautifully provocative flavors. This flavor punch is (for many) a real treat, but in the context of a meal, a casual drink or a quick sip during a break from work it can be too much to take on.
Add water or seltzer to a wine like Saperavi (it’s so dark red it looks black) and you have something rich but manageable. Throw some seltzer into a potent Slovenian white blend that tastes like sweetgrass and you’ve got yourself something ridiculously refreshing. Plus, these drinks are perfect for easy table drinking or a break from working.
Function over form is the name of the game when it comes to wine spritzers. It’s a different way to think about wine, but one that’s just as valid and often just as tasty. So, next time you’re caught adding a dash of something like water to your wine, just tell your critics to shut it and do some traveling in Eastern Europe where the wine spritzer is alive, well and delicious.