Wine Advice: So, You’re Having a Party

So, you’re having a party From weddings to baby showers, long weekend celebrations, anniversaries, impromptu gatherings and elegant affairs, there is a wine cocktail for every occasion.

Wine cocktails may be made with a variety of wines: red, white, rosé, sparkling, sweet or dry. When selecting which wine to use consider the aromas and flavors in the wine, because if, for example, you choose a white wine with notes of tropical fruit you can complement the wine-infused blend with the addition of mango, melon and pineapple. Sauvignon Blanc’s profile is intensified by the addition of citrus and tropical fruit, where Riesling is enhanced bygreen apple, peach, pear and nectarine. Red wine-infused drinks made with Pinot Noir improve with the addition of raspberries, strawberries and cherries, flavors that mimic those in the wine.

Undoubtedly the most popular wine-infused cocktail is Sangria which may be made with white, rosé or red wine, although traditional Sangria recipes call for a dry red table wine from Spain or Portugal. If you prefer ripe and fruity red Sangria select one of the many off-dry “New World” red blends such as Apothic Red, Diabolica, Gnarly Head Authentic Red or Fetzer Crimson.

Although it is not necessary, if you prepare Sangria or wine-infused punch a day ahead it is well worth the effort, as this allows the flavors to meld together. Also, it is best to keep all ingredients refrigerated as cool temperatures enhance and enliven the drink. Serve drinks in cooled frosty stemware and add a special touch with garnish. A slice of orange, lime or lemon, mint leaf, flower or sprig of rosemary make the drink more appealing.

There are many ways to alter a recipe to suit your taste and budget by adjusting or substituting ingredients. Sweetness may be adjusted by the addition or omission of sugar but also by substituting a beverage such as club soda (dry) for ginger ale (sweet) or dry wine with off-dry (slightly sweet) wine. For cocktails calling for Champagne, you may substitute less expensive dry sparkling wines made using the same wine-making method. Try Cava from Spain, wines labeled “Crémant” from France or any sparkling wine labeled as having been “made by the traditional or ancestral method”.

The following recipes were selected not only because they are refreshing and beautiful, but also quick and easy to prepare.

The classic recipe, invented in Harry’s bar in Venice, calls for white peaches but either yellow or white may be used.

Puree peaches until smooth. Fill Champagne flutes 1/3 full with peach puree, top with Champagne. Garnish with a peach slice.

White Sangria
1 26 ounce(750 ml) bottle of white wine – Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer unoaked Chardonnay, Vinho Verde

Combine all ingredients other than the ginger-ale. Chill. Add the cooled pop just prior to serving.

Pink Sangria

Mix the first 4 ingredients together. Cool. Add ginger-ale just prior to service.

There have been adaptations to this recipe over the years but here is the tried and true (and easy) original.

Fill one-half of a Champagne flute with sparkling wine and top off with orange juice.

Traditional Sangria

Combine all ingredients other than carbonated water and refrigerate overnight. If you want a fizzy beverage add cooled carbonated water just prior to serving.