The wine cooler has a bit of an identity problem. Is it a wine spritzer? A wine cocktail? Sangria? And what about that wild-child moment in the `80s when it was the hottest thing on the party scene?
Luckily, this cocktail conundrum is easily solved. As Gertrude Stein might put it, wine cooler is wine spritzer is wine cocktail is sangria. And the versions being served today have nothing in common with the cheap, mass-produced products of 30 years ago.
“Mixology has been raised to this new chef-like heights and wine, in a way, is the bartender’s hottest ingredient right now,” says Mike Dawson, senior editor at Wine Enthusiast. “Cutting-edge bartenders are taking these wine-based drinks to new heights.”
Summer is the perfect time for wine coolers, since it’s the one time of year even the most dedicated vinophile toys with dropping a fistful of ice in a glass.
Start with a wine that has a fair amount of acidity to it, i.e. “yes” to sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, “no” to oaky chardonnay. Spanish reds, such as tempranillo, are a good choice.
Here are four coolers to get you started:
Combine 4 ounces sauvignon blanc, 1 ounce silver or blanco tequila, juice of 1 lime and 3 ounces grapefruit soda in a tall, ice-filled glass. Stir gently, and serve immediately. Serves 1.
Dark Island Cooler
Scrape seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean into a tall glass. Add 4 ounces cabernet sauvignon, 1 ounce spiced rum and 2 ounces pineapple juice; stir. Add ice and top with seltzer water. Serves 1.
In a blender, puree 3/4 cup watermelon chunks, 1/3 cup frozen peach chunks and 1/2 ounce lemon juice. Strain into 2 sparkling wine flutes. Divide 6 ounces prosecco between the glasses. Serves 2.
Rose Tinted Glasses
In a blender, puree 1 cup hulled strawberries. Strain into a cocktail shaker. Add 2 ounces St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and 8 ounces rosé. Add ice and shake. Strain into 2 tall, ice-filled glasses. Top with seltzer water and garnish each with a mint sprig. Serves 2.