Wine cocktails have a bad rap and we can think of a few folks to blame for that. Maybe the culprit is your wine cooler swilling Aunt Karen who conveniently brings two and and a half bottles of Bartles & Jaymes to family gatherings and decides it’s the perfect time to hop on an emotional rollercoaster (awkwaaard). Or maybe it’s because of trendy, millennial influencer Saraa (note: no “h”, double “a”) that frequently posts IG pics of “the squad” draining bottomless mimosas at brunch.
Either way...it’s time to take back wine cocktails from the hands of hammered Aunts and trendy influencers.
How are we gonna do that you ask?Well, by showing you some great options for mixing wine with booze and mixers.
Here is our list of four wine cocktails with recipes, ranging from working-class drinks to upper-class libations and everything in between. We’ll give you a little bit of history, why we especially like them and share some alternative ways to upgrade the cocktail for the more basic options. For the “bougie,” options -are we saying that right Saraa? -we’ll provide you with some alternative ingredients to reduce the impact on your wallet while still keeping the...je ne sais quoi, or whatever.
So, let’s shake it up.Check Out Lucky Rock Wines!
Oh, the old reliable combo of wine, fruit and ice. That’s it. The Sangria, meaning “blood” in Spanish, tracked back to the Early Greeks and Romans and was propelled to fame by the Spanish (https://vinepair.com/articles/the-history-of-sangria/). While the original version is typically made with Tempranillo, a Spanish grape used in Rioja wine, there is no such thing as a traditional Sangria. With the popularity of the cocktail at a fever pitch, you see Pink Sangria (using rosé wine), White Sangria (with white wine), and all sorts of other variations. The first Sangria that this writer ever made was an Argentine take on the cocktail, which I upgraded with some E & J Brandy (not a good decision). Others enjoy adding vodka...so maybe try that instead.
Sangria is just so damn flexible! You can make it in a glass, in a carafe, in a shoe (not recommended). You can also have it at any time of the day (except the workday, unless you work at the Lucky Rock office). The Sangria is perfect for our Pinot Noir, which is fruity, spicy, light and vibrant. Just drop a whole 750 ml bottle into a pitcher, slice up some berries and drop in some ice (you can even make some custom wine ice cubes, we got the “how-to’s” here: https://luckyrockwineco.com/blogs/blog/wine-ice-cubes-chilling-with-wine).
Try Yourself. Pick up some Pinot!
Well, you might say, “why not use more expensive wine?”
And we would say, “NO, not a good idea.” But then we would add, “but whatever floats your boat, if you got the money, go for it.” The truth is that Sangria requires a particular type of wine that is fruity and on the lighter side. More expensive wines are typically more decadent and more complex, which may not be as enjoyable in a cocktail. So, to up your sangria game, get some dope ass ingredients and try this recipe for size: (https://luckyrockwineco.com/blogs/news/the-lucky-peach-cocktail).
If you know about this cocktail, either you’re from the Basque Country of Spain, or you are a lot cooler than us (it could be both). This cocktail is straightforward and easy to make. It’s an equal parts mix of red wine and Coca-Cola. This cocktail has been a Pais Vasco staple since 1953 when Coca-Cola opened its first plant in Spain. Now, maybe a mixture of Coke and wine doesn’t sound as appealing to you. We would say, “don’t knock it till you try it,” ‘cause it might totally work for you. After all, it works for those crazy Spaniards who need a buzz and a kick to wake up from their siesta and party through the night.
Simplicity. Plain and simple. But also the complete lack of pretension. It seems like the Spanish captured the essence of drinking wine whenever, wherever, however. I mean, why the f@&k not? ¡Viva la Revolución de Vino!
There isn’t much to do to upgrade a cocktail with two simple, working-class ingredients. You could experiment with various carbonated beverages that you prefer or add Angostura and orange bitters for more complexity.
Sure, French things tend to be fancy. Kir Royale sounds pretty bougie but it’s actually a typical pre-meal aperitif that doesn’t require a white tablecloth. It’s nine parts white wine and one part (or a splash of) crème de cassis- a rich and concentrated black currant liqueur — served straight up, without ice. Typically, you make Kir with Aligoté, the Burgundy grape equivalent of Jordan Rogers.Remember Aaron Rodgers’ brother? No? Exactly.Aligoté is often ignored in favor of the more famous and well-respected Chardonnay.
With more hectic lifestyles, the taste for this wine cocktail has waned, though we love the concept of having a drink before a meal to spark your appetite. Old school but effective.
Kir Royale is versatile, simple and delicious. You see the pattern. Just like with Sangria, you can swap any of these ingredients around and it will still taste pretty dang good.
Replace white wine with red wine and you got a Cardinal. Replace cassis with blackberry liqueur and you got a Kir Berrichon. Use peach liqueur and you got a Kir Peche. Learn how to pronounce all the French names and you’ll feel damn fancy. Don’t let it go to your head, though.
It’s funny how the casual wine drinks on this list are Spanish and the upper-class drinks are French. But that’s the way it goes we s’pose. French 75 was developed in 1915, tracking back to World War I. The name comes from the 75 mm field gun that the French utilized in WWI. The reason why this drink is bougie is Champagne. The ingredients are gin (an upper-class spirit in itself), simple syrup, lemon juice and the bubbly French wine all mixed up in right proportions (see https://www.liquor.com/recipes/french-75-2/ for exact measurements). This cocktail is served in a flute glass without ice. Sometimes Cognac can be substituted for gin, which makes the drink even more bougie.
The cocktail is pretty lookin’ and delicious. And yes, sometimes we like fancy things — no shame in that.
Substitute the Champagne for a more affordable bubbly. When you buy Champagne, you pay more for the brand than you do for the wine itself. We’re not down for that. Many Californian sparklers are a better bang for the buck. On the plus side, if you buy those, you’re supporting small producers instead of the big corporate Champagne houses. We suggest our friends Bodkin Wines (https://www.bodkinwines.com/). We’re not biased...okay, maybe a little bit.
Check out our Canned SB, perfect for cocktails
Wine and cocktails are a great pairing. The French and the Spanish think so and we certainly agree. More importantly, wine cocktails are an easier and more accessible entry point into the world of wine, a world that -despite all the pretense- is a place we love and want more people to share with us. A wine cocktail is by no means a new concept, but it’s kind of like a facelift for the stodgy, boring world of classic wine.
We’d love for you to give one of these cocktails a try, put your spin on it, take a pic and post it on IG with the #luckycocktails hashtag on it. Be sure to also check out our YouTube show on the subject for some wine cocktails made by expert bartenders. Cheers!
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Chilled Red Wines
If you have not had a chilled red wine, it can be quite the mental pivot. Truth-be-told, most people drink red wines too warm and white wines too cold. As they say...“the worse the beer, the colder you drink it”.