Many people associate wine with winter, mainly when it comes to reds. Although some whites can be refreshing on a hot summers day you see more people drinking beer and cocktails throughout the spring/summer season. While our fellow wine lovers in the northern hemisphere begin to cosy up to their fireplaces with a glass of red and preparing delicious hot spiced wine beverages for the upcoming Halloween celebrations, one thing that sprang to my mind was "wine cocktails!".
There are plenty of fun and refreshing chilled drinks you can make with wine, which are guaranteed to impress your mates this summer. You can follow recipes found online or use your imagination to invent your unique mixes. There’s only one general rule to follow for success, which is balancing the flavours between sweet, sour, spicy and savoury for ideal complexity.
With no shortage of popular cocktails you do not have to look far for inspiration as you can convert these into delicious creations using just wine and bubbly without any hard liquors. The wines you end up using do not have to be expensive bottles, but it might be a good idea to ensure that you're at least using decent quality reds and whites. To keep costs low, why not opt for cleanskins, otherwise check out WineMarket’s bargains and other hot wine deals currently trending on Buckscoop’s deals board.
I've decided to get back to basics by starting off creating wine based cocktails using the six noble grape varieties, and here’s what I came up with:
Sauvignon Blanc Tonic
It’s as simple as the name suggests. Replacing gin with white wine in one of the most widely recognised mixed drinks will extend your consumption capacity and most likely save you from a serious hangover. Diluting white wine with sparkling water is a custom in several European countries, so we could take this a step further, right? Try mixing Sauvignon Blanc with tonic water, which will nicely balance the sweet, sour and bitter tastes and the fizz will add a sensation of spiciness to your cocktail. You can also use juniper berries, cardamom or cloves which are very trendy to garnish gin tonic. As a bonus feature, this drink will glow under a black light thanks to the tonic water’s quinine content.
Vinojito de Riesling
It’s a delicious refreshing mojito made with wine. Mix Riesling, Cava, lime juice, sugar, chopped mint leaves and crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Riesling is a perfect white to use in this wine cocktail giving its properties of being a mineral-rich hence savoury base to which you add sugar for the sweetness, lime juice for the sour factor and mint leaves plus Cava or Champagne for the spiciness. A crisp, sweet citrus flavoured slush, perfect for a hot summer day.
Vanilla Heaven Chardonnay
This cocktail is like a nice vanilla cookie. Chardonnay is known for being a fruity white with distinctive buttery aromas. During the maturation process in oak barrels, Chardonnay will adopt taste notes of vanilla, clove, cinnamon and a certain biscuity/doughy flavour. From here on it’s just like baking a cookie, adding vanilla, syrup and lemon juice will enhance the natural harmony of flavours in the Chardonnay.
Merlot is the same to wine as Tequila Sunrise to cocktails, both are recommended for beginners. You might not be into wine or cocktails, or drinking in general, so give this sweet alcoholic juice a shot. Using a tall glass with a few ice cubes, carefully pour in Merlot, orange juice, and Fanta lemon in that order to get the “sunset” colour effect. For extra sweetness you can mix syrup with the Merlot before adding it into the glass.
Big Island Iced Cab Sav
This cocktail is not as hard core as its cousin from Long Island, and that’s given to the fact that it only contains wine which itself has a lower alcohol content to liquor, not to mention that the classic Long Island Ice Tea recipe includes four different types of hard liquor. Wine on the other hand depicts a complex flavour, so you do not have to mix varieties to get your senses satisfied. I would recommend to use Cabernet Sauvignon as a replacement in this classic old school cocktail, adding Coca Cola and orange juice to the mix.
Coffee Pinot Noir
This cocktail brings out the premium qualities of Pinot Noir, maintaining its elegance by adding coffee, brown sugar, a tinge of cocoa powder and cinnamon sticks to it. Make sure you melt the sugar and dissolve the cocoa powder in the coffee while it’s hot. Also let the cinnamon sticks release the flavour by placing them in the cup and leave them in there until the coffee cools down. Add Pinot Noir to your spiced coffee and serve it “on the rocks” in a stemless glass.
Frozen Shiraz Daiquiri
OK, I admit it, the only reason creating the Bonus section was to list a Shiraz based wine cocktail. After all, we are in Australia. This cocktail is the wine-reinvention of the well known strawberry daiquiri. Add Shiraz, red and/or dark berries, lemon juice, sugar and ice into your blender and voila … a delicious Shiraz slushy emerges.
I always leave out Rose’s, though they are one of the freshest and most easily drinkable wines loved by many. This cocktail is simple yet it will thrill your senses. It kind of works on the same basis as the Wine Tonic above giving you an entirely different culinary experience. Use sparkling Rose as a base, smooth it with rosewater and add a drop of honey and lavender for rounding the flavours.