Betty's Wine Musings

Have You Ever Tried Wine Cocktails?

When it comes to wine, I’m a purist. But I know some people have a hard time with wine and like to mix it with other things. Hence, the concept of wine cocktails. Have you ever tried one? With the exception of Mulled Wine, Sparkling Wine with orange juice and Sangria, I haven’t. But after doing some Google research, I might try one – or two. Thank you to A Couple Cooks, Food&Wine and Eater for their help with this article.


Beautiful wine cocktails
Beautiful wine cocktails

The History of Wine Cocktails

Eater has a beautiful write-up on this topic. Here are some of the highlights.

“For years, wine cocktails got a bad rap, and it was almost exclusively because of a thing called the wine cooler…But trace the history of the wine cooler and it leads to the wine spritzers of Eastern Europe and tintos de verano of Spain. Thankfully, the wine cooler is not the only wine cocktail around. The history of wine in cocktails is as old as civilization itself: Once early man discovered that fruit juices fermented into a boozy beverage, it was only a matter of time before the concept of distilling to further enhance a beverage’s ethanol content was realized. Prior to the successful advent of alcohol distillation in the 13th century, it’s likely that humans got drunk off of wine and wine mixed with other liquids, honey, spices, and herbs.

“By definition,…a cocktail consists of a distilled spirit, sugar, and a bitter. Though this definition is no longer commonly employed, it’s an easy way to see how wine can fit into a cocktail, either as the distilled spirit (brandy), a sweetener (sparkling wine), or the bitter (vermouth). On top of its base ingredients, a cocktail can contain any number of liquids, fruits, infusions, dilutions, and flavorings. Wine, or a beverage made from wine, adds complexity to the sharp taste of high proof spirits, and is an indispensable ingredient behind the modern bar.”

Regular young or aged wine sometimes finds its way into cocktails. For example, the classic French aperitif known as the Kir is a combination of crème de cassis (a black currant liqueur) and white wine. But most wines used in cocktails today are sparkling, fortified, aromatized, or distilled spirits made from wine. It’s a mistake to think a cocktail that contains wine is lower in alcohol content than one that does not. This is sometimes the case, as in a spritzer or sangria, but not the case in a Sidecar or French 75.

Yummy-Sounding Recipes

There are a bunch of yummy-sounding recipes. I decided to include one red recipe, one white recipe and one sparkling recipe.

New York Sour

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • 1/2 ounce red wine

Add the whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white (optional) into a shaker with ice and shake hard until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Slowly pour the red wine over the back of a bar spoon so that the wine floats on top of the drink.

Late-Harvest Wine and Campari Cocktails

  • 3 3/4 cups sweet late-harvest white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup Campari
  • Ice for serving

In a large pitcher, mix the white wine with the fresh orange juice and Campari. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Fill tall glasses with ice, pour the cocktail over the ice and serve.

French 75

  • Ice
  • 1ounce gin or cognac
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 3 ounces Champagne or dry sparkling wine
  • Lemon twist

In an ice-filled shaker, combine the gin or cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup. Cover and shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into a Champagne glass and top with Champagne. Finish with a lemon twist.

I would be grateful if you would share your favorite wine cocktails here. Thanks!


As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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