You like wine, and you like liquor. What better way to enjoy them than to find a blend that works for you? Learning to make mixed drinks is a great skill for entertaining, and these are very easy. There are some guidelines here along with simple wine spritzers you can throw together at a moment’s notice.
Rather than a wine glass, you may want to choose a cocktail glass, tallboy or tea glass. Your drink will need room to mix. In some cases, you may be adding fruit or ice, and this leaves more room for that without being stingy with the alcohol.
While some use leftover wine to make a mixed drink, it’s actually better to use a fresh bottle. A better Chardonnay wine provides a higher quality platform on which to build a little masterpiece. Other white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, also provide a good start toward the goal.
Red wine has a higher acidity and may not mix well with citrus flavors, but that doesn’t completely rule it out. Just remember that red wine with fruit is the base for mulled wine or sangria. Both are quite different and not nearly as light as wine spritzers are intended to be.
Your liquor cabinet may already provide the mixers you need. You can experiment with starker liquors like gin or vodka. Or, you can lean toward sweeter ones such as tequila and rum. For some real fun, stock up on fruity, colorful liqueurs. For a good list of liqueurs, click here.
You may also want some nonalcoholic mixers. This is where it may help to have a clear idea of the differences in today’s carbonated waters. Club soda has minerals meant to enhance the taste, which often leans toward salty. Sparkling mineral water is, in many ways, a natural club soda.
Seltzer has less taste, diluting, rather than altering, the natural taste of your wine and other mixers. Tonic water is naturally bitter, although it may be sweetened. It is the only one on the list so far that is likely to have sugar or calories.
Then there are sweet mixers like 7-Up, Sprite, and other lemon-lime sodas. The simplest coolers are just wine and soda. You mix four ounces of white wine with four ounces of soda. You can make it fancier by adding such things as a sprig of mint, a lemon wedge or lime wedge.
Another choice is ginger ale, although this one is harder to match up to the right wine. Ginger tends to overpower other tastes, which is why a better cooler would be six ounces of wine and just two ounces of ginger ale. A third ingredient, such as an ounce of gin or vodka, would dial down the ginger and sweetness.
Another natural pairing in wine spritzers is fruit juice. Orange juice combined with an orange liqueur is a really nice pairing with wine. You can use about three ounces of sparkling white wine, an ounce of orange juice, an ounce of soda water, and an ounce or two of Aperol. All ingredients should be chilled before mixing.
Freshly squeezed juices will always be better, but that shouldn’t stop you if none are available. A vodka and sauvignon blanc pairing calls for three ounces of wine and one ounce each of liquor, orange juice, and lemon juice. If it’s too tart, you can add an ounce of lemon-lime soda.
Lime juice can be substituted for lemon, although it isn’t recommended if the cocktail has a red wine base. You can experiment with whatever is in season, such as watermelons, apples, and berries.
Strawberries make a good backdrop for Vodka-white wine spritzers. You’ll want three ounces of a good Sauvignon Blanc, an ounce of Vodka, and an ounce or more of soda water for this one. The trick is the strawberries which are lightly crushed in the glass or shaker. This captures all of the fresh juice as well as the pulp which adds to the density of this drink. A sweetener, such as an agave nectar, is a nice touch, or you can replace the soda water with lemon-lime soda.
A Campari Spritz is quite delicious with a splash or more of lime juice and cherry juice. The base is three ounces of wine, one ounce of soda water, and one or two ounces of Campari.
Shaken, Not Stirred
If you are combining ingredients, a shaker is always a better idea than simply stirring. It blends the different liquid ingredients more thoroughly. It also gives you the feeling of control over the final product, which hopefully will be delicious.
Mixologists warn that servers need to be aware of the alcohol content of such a drink. It can seem quite tame, but actually, be quite potent.
Now check your cabinets and see what you can dream up as a wine spritzer tonight.
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