While many of us are still social-distancing and spring gives way to warmer temperatures, wine lovers naturally gravitate toward crisp, refreshing wines that match the summer season. Not only are wines such as California Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and rosé delicious on their own, they are also wonderful in wine-based cocktails. Light and fresh but big on flavor, wine cocktails are easy to make at home for sipping on the patio or toasting friends during virtual happy hours.
“Wine is a great base for cocktails because it has a balance of acidity and fruit,” says Northern California radio show host, wine educator and cocktail maven Ziggy Eschliman, also known as Ziggy the Wine Gal. “It also has structure, which provides an easy framework on which to build.”
For vibrant summer wine cocktails, Eschliman recommends wines with light and refreshing profiles such as California sparkling wines, crisp whites and rosés, pairing them with garden-inspired simple syrups, artisan bitters, edible flowers and fresh herbs. “Think about the qualities of each wine variety,” she says, “then match them with similar flavors to complement the wine’s natural aromas and flavor profile.”
To provide more inspiration for signature wine-based cocktails for summer, California Wines has released a new free e-book, “Fresh + Delicious California Wine Cocktails.” Available to download here, it features recipes for fabulous seasonal drinks that celebrate the state’s bounty of sustainably grown wines, produce and fresh herbs.
Fresh Berry Moscato Mule: A bubbly blend of muddled berries, ginger beer and California Moscato wine
Cucumber Herb Spritzer: California white wine, cucumber and lime meet mint and basil for a fresh herbal twist (recipe below)
Strawberry Lemon Smash: Fresh strawberries, California sparkling wine and lemon create a summertime sensation
Raspberry Frosé: California rosé, fresh raspberries and peaches whirl together for a slushy, grown-up treat
SoCal Citrus Sangria: A citrus-kissed combination of California Zinfandel, fresh citrus and a touch of honey
To download a free copy of “Fresh + Delicious California Wine Cocktails” and sign up for the Discover California Wines monthly newsletter, visit here.
California Wine Cocktails Sample Recipe:
Cucumber Herb Spritzer
A cool, refreshing white wine cocktail for fans of spa water, but for adults only, of course. Best served at the end of the day, the start of a weekend, or with a bowl of fresh guacamole (made with California avocados!)
- 3 mint leaves
- 2 large basil leaves
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 6 ounces California white wine, such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier
- 3 cucumber strips
- 3-4 ounces plain or lime-flavored sparkling water
- Garnish: lime wheel, mint leaf & basil leaf
Tear the mint leaves and basil leaves into large pieces and add them to the bottom of a wineglass or tumbler.
Add the juice of half a lime and use a spoon to stir, muddling the mixture a bit to release the flavor of the herbs.
Add ice to the glass, then the white wine. Tuck the cucumber strips throughout the mixture and stir gently to combine.
Top with sparkling water, then add the lime wheel and more mint and basil as garnish.
Source: Fresh & Delicious California Wine Cocktails Wine Institute 2020