Summer Sippers – Time to Have Fun!

Something to Wine About!

By Linda Delmonico Prussen

The newest trend in wine goes perfect with the coming summer season—wine cocktails. You’re already familiar with the classic tried-and true wine cocktails such as mimosas, bellinis and sangria, but what you may not realize is that wine, especially sweeter low-alcohol wines, can serve as a great base mixer for wine cocktails – and you can be creative.

First thing to keep in mind: do not buy a bottle of caymus and decide to experiment. But, by the same token, do not buy the cheapest vino on the shelf and hope for the best. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, there are some awesome low-coast, high-quality wines that would be perfect for mixing. If the recipe you’re using doesn’t suggest a wine, try Wine Spectator’s Best Buys:

Next, a simple start: seltzer. Do you remember the days of white and red wine spritzers? Me too! And if so, I promise not to tell! Both plain and flavored seltzers can help lower alcohol content, a welcome relief on hot days.

Tip: for pairing with a sweet wine, split it with a plain seltzer/club soda for a refreshing low-alcohol cocktail. With a dryer wine, experiment with a flavored seltzer such as vanilla or black cherry for a sweeter fun alternative.

One of the best bartenders I know, Tricia at Nolan’s, the casual, fun, laid-back bar in Long Beach, came up with a quick and easy sangria I served at my sister’s house to absolutely rave reviews. Start with Yellow Tail Shiraz and add ginger ale, fruit (frozen or fresh) and ice. Use less ice if you use frozen fruit.

Why does this sangria work? The trend is to use ginger brandy in sangria. Ginger ale is a great substitute and it provides the sweetness without adding alcohol, something party hosts now need to be conscious of. For Skinny-girl fans I used diet ginger ale and it tasted just as good.

My best advice: Have fun. Buy decent low-cost high-quality wine and if you buy sweet wine, try a plain or dryer mix, with a dry wine try a sweet mixer. I’m posting one last wine cocktail that might be the most polarizing link I ever post. But if you love cola you can try one of the most popular international wine cocktails—red wine and cola:

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