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Booze and Juice: My Favorite Wine-Based Cocktails

Jungle juice and sangria: Whenever someone mentions drinking those two wine-based cocktails, everyone else in the room starts talking about how great (or crazy) that night was. Remember trying “jungle” juice back in college?

Recipe:

  • Dump a minimum of eight different wines and liquors into a huge container (a bathtub or kiddie pool is not out of the question).
  • Add various juices and sodas and stir.
  • Drink.
  • Regret.

(Boy am I glad that there weren’t cell phones at those parties I was at 15 years ago. Nobody needs to see my “good old days” on social media.)

Anyway, then you got older and a little more sophisticated (maybe), and you started enjoyed sangria, sipping on the subtly sweet taste of wine mixed with brandy and chopped fruit at a restaurant or summer get-togethers. The point is, you’ve been enjoying wine-based cocktails for a good while now, likely because they’re so darned delicious.

So what makes these drinks taste so amazing? The answer is balance. Wine can be used as both the dominant and a supporting ingredient in a cocktail. Much like a food pairing, the acidity level (the brightness that you feel in the back of the mouth, like drinking a lemonade) and fruitiness of wine can be used to accent, tone down, or complement all kinds of liquors, juices, and fizzy sodas.

Here are five of my favorite wine-based cocktails, each one all about that tasty balance:

Wine-Based Cocktails

Sparkling Wine Mojito

Whenever I order a mojito (a cocktail made with rum, muddled mint and lime, soda, and simple syrup), it always taste different than the time before. My tip for a mojito upgrade? Add sparkling wine instead of soda water, and the acid and sugars of the wine will make the mint and rum more pronounced and the wine even tastier!

Sparkling Wine Mojito Recipe

 

Bellini

I have to start with this simple yet classic mix with peach puree and prosecco (a slightly sweet Italian sparkling wine with lots of peach and pear and a touch of earthiness). In this drink, the prosecco carries the flavor while the fruity notes arrive at the finish.

Bellini Recipe

 

Calimocho (Kalimotxo)

This cocktail is from the Basque region of Spain. It’s a 1:1 ratio of red wine like a Tempranillo and Coca-Cola on the rocks. Something so simple and relaxing to enjoy, this Calimocho can be enjoyed for adults and even teenagers!

Calimocho Recipe

Late-Harvest White Wine and Campari

I was turned on to Campari and orange Juice by one of my guests in an Italian restaurant I used to work at here in Las Vegas. He told me that he loved the bitter orange, cinnamon, and cherry notes of the Campari tempered by the tangy-sweet orange juice. To create the perfect beverage, you need a touch of sweetness. By adding a late-harvest wine that was left on the vine for a longer period of time, you’re matching the bitter Campari with an intense, concentrated sweetness to create a delicious and refreshing cocktail.

Food and Wine’s Late Harvest and Campari Cocktail

 

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

I never thought that adding wine to hot chocolate would be so amazing! The slight bitterness from chocolate along with its creamy sweetness needs a dry and heavier wine for a warm, decadent finish. Don’t forget the whip cream!

Red Wine and Hot Chocolate Recipe

Oh and by the way, I also created a guide of trying different styles of red wines with sangrias in an article called Wine Craft: One Sangria Recipe (6 Ways) Perfect for Summer. Cheers!

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