It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Well, perhaps. One way to make December more festive is to gather with family and friends and enjoy some wine cocktails. You read that correctly — cocktails made with wine as an ingredient are growing in popularity on bar and restaurant drink menus and can easily be made at home.
Let’s start simply — with just two ingredients: Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, and Aperol, an Italian aperitif widely available in the United States. If you added club soda or sparkling water to the mix, you would have the basics of the popular drink Aperol Spritz, but that’s not necessary. Just pour one ounce of Aperol into a champagne flute or streamlined wine glass, add four ounces of Prosecco and you have refreshing and visually appealing cocktail.
If you prefer to be a bit more fancy, then try a New York Sour. This drink is a kicked-up version of the classic whiskey sour, and for it, you’ll need bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup (or maple syrup) and red wine, such as a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, although other reds work just fine. The technique is simple. Combine the bourbon, lemon juice and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and strain the liquids into a glass. Carefully pour the red wine over the backside of a spoon into the glass. Using the spoon will help create a separate red wine layer and add a little more pizzazz to the glass.
If glamour is your goal, then the Classic Champagne Cocktail is the perfect quaff this holiday season, and it’s easy to make. It takes only a few ingredients: a sugar cube, Angostura bitters, chilled Champagne or sparkling wine and a twist of lemon. Soak the sugar cube in four to five dashes of the bitters and place it in a Champagne flute. Top off the flute with four ounces of Champagne or sparkling wine and garnish with the lemon twist. Although this cocktail has been around since the mid-19th century, it remains a favorite. Cheers and happy holidays!
Bivio Italia Prosecco
A dry, yet fruit-forward sparkling wine, with balanced acidity.
Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bursts of berries and black cherries with a hint of vanilla.
Perrier Jouet Champagne Grand Brut
Good balance of acid helps to highlight the aromas of fresh fruits and vanilla.
Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. He is the author of the book Wine Savvy: Exploring and Enjoying American Wine.