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Classic Wine Cocktails: Tips, Tricks and Recipes


Enjoying a cocktail can be refreshing and delicious. There is nothing like the cold refreshing sparkling wine cocktail on a hot summer patio, or the warmth of a whiskey cocktail on a cool evening. Regardless of what your preference is, the addition of wine to many cocktails can enhance the flavour profile and make them even more delicious. Here are some tips when brainstorming ideas for wine cocktails and a few recipes to try at home. Enjoy!

Choosing the Right Wine for the Job

There are so many wines to choose from when thinking about making a cocktail. But not all work as well for the job. My overarching tip is that you should never use a wine you wouldn’t drink on its own in a cocktail. If it’s not good enough to drink, its not going to get better when you add it to a drink.

For sparkling cocktails, like the classic champagne cocktail or the French 75, choose a sparkling wine that is made champagne method- it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and use expensive French Champagne for the job- I am a purist when it comes to that. But, choose a sparkling wine that is made the same way as champagne- this adds a depth of flavour and complexity to your cocktail, and these are usually have a biscuit character rather than overly fruit forward notes. We have some great local options, or Spanish Cava is always an affordable option.

Exception to the Sparkling Wine Rule

Italian Sparkling Wine Cocktails call for Prosecco, this is a fruit forward, tank-method sparkling wine, which is fruity and usually has notes of peach, pear and lemon. The Bellini or the Aperol Spritz are classics that will always call for Prosecco.

When making red wine cocktails, it’s important to pick something that is medium bodied and fruit forward with not a lot of tannin in it. Tannins can have a bitter taste- especially when you mix them with dark liquors like bourbon or whiskey. Think about an easy drinking red like a Merlot, or a Gamay wine. Heavy hitters like Cabernet Sauvignon, or Zinfandels boast big tannins and won't do well in a wine cocktail.

Wine Cocktail Recipes

Rosé Margarita

0.75oz tequila Reposado

3oz fruit forward Rosé

1oz fresh lime juice

0.5oz simple syrup

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

French 75

1oz gin

1oz lemon juice

0.5oz simple syrup

4oz sparkling wine

In a shaker with ice combine gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Stir until well chilled. Strain into flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist.

New York Whiskey Sour

1.5oz bourbon

1oz lemon juice

0.5oz simple syrup

1 egg white

1oz fruity red wine

Combine all ingredients except for the wine in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake vigorously for 5 seconds. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a glass. Pour red wine over back of bar spoon to create layered effect.

If you want to learn more about Ontario wine, why not host a wine event? Pick some friends and let's get together and drink some wine! Contact me, Danielle@newagenonnawineandfood.com and follow me on Instagram @NewAgeNonna.

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