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The idea of using wine or champagne in cocktails isn’t a new one with simple drinks such as the Bucks Fizz and Kir Royale having been around for a long time.  But there is more to the world of wine cocktails than simply adding a pretty colour liqueur to a glass of bubbly to make an eye catching creation.  Here we look at drinks that are the best of both worlds – real cocktails with plenty of wine involved.


One of the most famous wine cocktails is Sangria and its many different variations.  The original drink came from Spain and Portugal and used red wine, a touch of brandy, chopped fruit and a sweetener.  Fruit could be almost anything you had around – oranges, lemons, limes, apples, melon, berries, grape, kiwi, mango or peach.  The sweetener could be sugar syrup, commonly used in a lot of cocktails and now available in ready-made bottles, as well as honey or even orange juice.  The whole mixture is chilled for a period of time as much as a few days depending on preference before serving.

Red Wine Sangria with lemon, lime, apple, and orange served in a glass.

Red Wine Sangria with lemon, lime, apple, and orange served in a glass – By Evan Swigart from Chicago, USA (Sangria) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Variations of sangria are a multitude.  Using white wine rather than red creates sangria blanco or clerico as it is known as Argentina and Paraguay.  Zurra is a Spanish version using peaches and nectarines while some parts of Portugal, cinnamon and medronho brandy are used in the mix.  For a simple version, tinto de verano is a Spanish version using one part red wine and one part gaseosa, a term referring to sodas and other carbonated drinks such as lemonade, Sprite or 7-Up.  Rum is sometimes added and a slice of lemon on serving.

Famous wine cocktails

For fans of Prosecco, then the first cocktail on the list to try is the Bellini.  Invented in Venice, Italy in the 1930s or 1940s in Harry’s Bar, it was a favourite of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles before travelling to New York.  It uses 2 parts Prosecco (or 10 cl) to 1 part fresh peach puree.  Put the puree into a chilled wine flute then add the wine and stir.

The Mimosa is a champagne cocktail much like a Bucks Fizz in that it uses an equal measure of champagne and orange juice.  This juice can be substituted for other citrus juices.  It differs from the Bucks Fizz in that the latter uses more fruit juice to champagne.

Modern cocktails

As cocktails have come back into fashion, mixologists around the world have begun working on the mixture of wine and other spirits with some tasty results.  Some may take a little preparation while others are delightfully straightforward.

The San Francisco Sangaree uses 4 cherries, ¼ ounce sugar syrup, 1 ½ ounces merlot, 1 ounce bourbon and a lemon slice.  Muddle the cherries in a cocktail shaker then add ice, syrup, wine and bourbon as well as the lemon, shake and strain into a glass.

The French 75 combines sparkling wine and vodka for a simple cocktail.  Use 1 ½ ounces of vodka, ¾ ounce lemon juice, ¼ ounce sugar syrup and 1 ½ ounces of sparkling wine.  Combine everything apart from the wine in a shaker and fill with ice.  Shake and strain into a champagne flute then top with the wine.

Wine slushies

photo-1438907046657-4ae137eb8c5eThe very latest in ideas to use wine in new types of drinks is definitely a summer one and I’m not entirely sure that it totally counts as cocktails but it is certainly interesting – wine slushies.  According to those in the know, these fun and fruity wine based drinks are going to be everywhere this summer so if you want to impress guests with your on-trend drinks, they may be worth a go.

The Strawberry Peach Slushie uses a bottle of white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, 2 peaches and 2 cups of strawberries.  Prepare the peaches by peeling, slicing and freezing them then add 2 cups of wine to them and pop them into the blender.  Put the mixture into a bowl.  Take the strawberries, sliced and frozen, and add them to the blender with the rest of the wine.  Mix everything up and if it seems too liquidy, then pop it in the freezer for fifteen minutes or so.

We’ve mentioned Sangria and it seems this summer staple has also had the slushie treatment.  All you need is 8 ounces of red wine, 2 ounces of brandy and 2 ounces of triple sec liqueur.  Add to the blender with three cups of frozen fruit such as peaches, berries, pineapples or anything else you enjoy.  Pop in a punch of ground cinnamon and give a good whizz in the blender.  Serve in the glasses of your choice while still cold.

Wine cocktails - are they the best of both worlds?  Using wine and a mixture of fruit or juice, these drinks offer something for all tastes and include the ever-popular Sangria.