When I got home last weekend, I could hear the sounds of a lovely summer evening floating in from my backyard: children laughing, glasses clinking, adults murmuring. Happy hour instantly becomes happier hour when cocktails are accompanied by a sunset, family, and friends.
Wine cocktails, in particular, are perfect for summer simply because they’re so refreshing. Winter blues melt away as soon as these fresh blends hit your lips. And as an added bonus, wine cocktails are quick to prepare and easy to reproduce as the night goes on.
Cocktail parties are the same as dinner parties: The goal is to enjoy time with friends, not cook all night! Many summer wine cocktails require blending or cooling, so the more you can prepare the night before or earlier in the day, the more enjoyable happy hour will be.
Plus, wine cocktail recipes usually only call for about three to five ingredients, so you don’t have to break the bank purchasing a million grenadines, simple sugars, or fancy serving spoons. But spontaneous summer gatherings do happen, so be prepared by always having seltzer water, club soda, margarita mix, and ice on hand. Day-old fruit, which is perfect for a cocktail, is another staple.
To make a delicious wine cocktail, I suggest using fruitier wines such as moscato, riesling, or vignoles. You can even get away with pinot gris. But beware: Any wines with oak flavors will disappear in the cocktail. I once tried to create a chardonnay cocktail, and it didn’t quite work.
If you’re making wine cocktails for the first time, always start with a type of wine you like. If you start with something you enjoy, it won’t disappoint. You can use these recipes as a foundation, but I encourage you to get creative and play with the ingredients.
If you’re intimidated by whipping up fabulous cocktails, don’t be! Think of mixology like cooking: Once you understand the purpose and taste of each ingredient, you’ll become more comfortable substituting items to create a drink that you truly enjoy.
Wine cocktails are a perfect starting point for any summertime happy hour. Crank up your tunes, invite your friends, and enjoy a wonderful summer evening paired with delicious wine cocktails.
As winemakers, my team and I are always crafting new wine cocktails. Here are some of our favorites.
Andrew Meggitt joined the St. James Winery team in 2002 and has been enjoying life in the wine business for over 20 years. A three-year-long travel adventure around the world following university influenced not only his outlook on life, but also his perception of winemaking styles and methodology. Andrew creatively stretches the boundaries of traditional winemaking while integrating both old- and new-world techniques he learned while working in New Zealand and France.