Although Virginia wines are fabulous on their own, we’re enjoying them in new and creative ways, with wine slushies, Frozés, and wine cocktails making their way onto the scene.
Wine-based cocktails have been gaining in popularity—especially among the millennial crowd. They can act as an introduction to wine in younger (but of legal drinking age) consumers and because of their often fruity base, they are instantly familiar. Two of the most popular and recognizable wine cocktails are the Sangria and Mimosa.
A Demand for Something New
The traditional definition of a cocktail is the combination of a distilled spirit, sugar and a bitter. Substitution can be made by using an aged or fortified wine as the distilled spirit, sparking wine as the sweetener and vermouth as the bitter. The addition of fruits, infusions, and flavorings leads to any number of combinations.
Bartenders and mixologists who seek to create new experiences for their patrons can create a new experience for their customers by using unexpected ingredients in their craft cocktail. Or consumers looking for a change from their usual favorites can turn to wine as a lower-alcohol alternative to higher-alcohol-content spirits. What’s interesting is that the creativity in mixology has actually created a demand for something better and new. Enhanced flavor profiles and higher-quality cocktails are the result.
The Variety is Wide
Wine mixology can range from the simple, like a light wine spritzer, to the complex, incorporating spirits, botanicals, aromatics and syrups. Using a sparkling wine like a Champagne, Prosecco or Cava can result in a lovely wine spritzer-type cocktail that tickles the nose with its tiny bubbles, while whiskeys and bitters add sophistication. Even Port-style wines and Sherries can help concoct a delightful wine cocktail.
The next time you visit one of our beautiful Virginia wineries, see if they have a wine cocktail on the menu. In the meanwhile, try some of these wine mixology recipes at home.
Wine Mixology Recipes
- 4 Ice cubes
- 1 ¼ cups orange mango frozen concentrate
- ¾ cup Gewürztraminer
- ¼ cup Sprite
- Orange peel
Place ice in glass. Add orange mango frozen concentrate. Pour in Gewürztraminer, then add Sprite. Stir and garnish with orange peel. Makes 1 drink.
- 4 ice cubes
- 1 cup Pinot Grigio
- 1 cup Berry LaCroix
- 1 small scoop low-sugar raspberry sorbet
- Raspberries for garnish
Place ice in glass. Pour in Pinot Grigio, then Berry LaCroix. Add sorbet and stir. Garnish with raspberries. Makes 1 drink.
A food-friendly sangria created by Gary Sullivan of Boston’s Rocca Kitchen & Bar.
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 15 sage leaves (plus extra for garnish)
- 750 milliliter bottle of Rosé
- Lemon twists for garnish
In a small, heatproof bowl, stir honey into the boiling water until dissolved. Add sage leaves and muddle them with a wooden spoon. Let syrup cool slightly, then strain into a pitcher, pressing on the sage leaves. Pour in rosé and stir. Serve in a wineglass over ice, with a lemon twist and sage leaf garnish. Makes 6 drinks.
This is one of the favorites from Washington DC’s Poste restaurant in Penn Quarter.
- 1 pint Pinot Noir
- 1 cup cranberry juice
- 4 oz. orange juice
- 4 oz. raspberry liqueur
- Ice cubes
- 3 oz. Sprite, chilled
- 6 twists each lemon, lime and orange peel for garnish
In a pitcher, combine the wine, juices and raspberry liqueur. Chill in refrigerator about 2 hours. Stir well and pour into ice-filled glasses. Top each drink with ½ oz. Sprite and garnishes. Makes 6 drinks.
Fall & Winter Sangria
- 1 apple, thinly sliced
- 1 pear, thinly sliced
- ½ orange, thinly sliced
- 2 TBSP sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 750 ml bottle dry red wine like Rioja
- 1 750 ml bottle Sparkling Cider
- Cinnamon stick, rosemary sprig, orange slices for garnish (optional)
Place apple, pear and orange slices into a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Transfer this mixture to a large pitcher and allow to stand for 1 hour. Then pour in red wine. Use immediately or chill for up to 3 hours.
To serve, fill glasses with ice, fill halfway with sparkling cider, then fill to top with red wine mixture. Garnish as desired. Makes 10 drinks.
Red Wine Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup chocolate chunks
- ¾ cup Red Wine
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Homemade marshmallows
- Cocoa powder for garnish
Heat milk in saucepan on medium until simmering, but not boiling. Add chocolate chunks and stir until melted and mixture is smooth. Turn off heat and stir in the red wine and vanilla extract. Pour into individual mugs and top with marshmallows and a dusting of cocoa powder. Makes 2 drinks.
Sign up for the Wine Mixology Classes at Little Washington Winery and learn how to concoct cocktails like Persimmon Cardamom Spritz and the Bees Knees Wine Cocktail.