ByLucia Capretti/May 24, 2023 11:03 am EST
Wine spritzers are the perfect way to sip your favorite beverage without overdoing it. Whether you're looking for a drink that will take you from the start to finish of a summer day, or you want to tame the alcohol levels on your favorite bottle, a spritzer is the solution. Not only does it suit a lighter drinking experience, but it is also especially refreshing. Effervescence always hits the spot, and it doesn't have to be restricted to Champagne when it comes to wine.
The basic recipe consists of little more than wine, club soda, and ice, which of course, leaves room for plenty of variations. You might choose to make your spritzer using your favorite bottles of wine, or else go the easy route and pick up a case of cans. Canned spritzers often include added flavors and ingredients to enhance your drink. While they can be convenient when you're on the go, buying individual portions tends to get pricey. Plus, there's nothing better than customizing a drink to your preference. Discover our top ways to upgrade your next wine spritzer.
1. Spike it with spirits
Although we love wine spritzers for their lower alcohol content, this characteristic also makes them the perfect base for boozier add-ins. If cocktails are your go-to, there's no reason why you can't use a spritzer as one of the components. Considering the three main categories of still wine — red, white, and rosé — and you'll see that some matches are particularly well-suited.
For example, red wines with warm vanilla, butterscotch, coffee, leather, and spice aromas work well with spirits that offer a similar flavor profile. Bourbon and dark or black rum can bring out some of those tastes, amplifying the richness of the wine. Splash in some club soda, and you've still got yourself an easy-sipping drink.
Meanwhile, a zesty white or rosé wine could handle a shot of clear spirits if you're looking to kick it up a notch. If the wine is more aromatic, then vodka will let those flavors shine through. However, if herbal notes are present, then you might want to enhance them with a splash of gin. And if your wine of choice is heavy on lime and other citrus, tequila might just be it.
2. Enhance the spritz factor
When you love bubbles as much as we do, the more, the merrier. To retain the wine factor in your spritzer, consider adding sparkling wine to the trio of main ingredients. Just as we wouldn't recommend using your most dazzling bottles of wine for your spritzer, the same goes for the bubbly — skip the Champagne.
Sparkling wines made with the Charmat method (aka tank method) boast fruitier aromas than those produced following the traditional (or Champagne) method. The difference? The former occurs in a pressurized stainless steel tank, creating a fresher profile, whereas the latter comes in contact with yeast cells that infuse a richer biscuity aroma. Both are delicious, but if you're going for a bright and bubbly wine spritzer, save your money and go for the Charmat method.
Of course, labels don't always include production methods, so a safe bet is to pick up a bottle of Prosecco, which is usually made this way. If you want to keep the alcohol on the lower end, Moscato d'Asti is heavy on aromas and low in ABV. You could add either to a red wine spritzer or keep the color bold by pouring Lambrusco frizzante, a sparkling red wine from Italy.
3. Freeze it for popsicles or ice cubes
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If you're opting for a wine spritzer as a refreshing choice for a hot summer day, why not cool it down further? Whereas a bottle of wine may not freeze entirely due to its alcohol content, adding club soda to make a wine spritzer simultaneously lowers the ABV, making it freeze more quickly. For a simple way to keep your drink cool without watering it down, make wine spritzer ice cubes. Simply double up the portions as you're mixing the wine and club soda, and pour half of it into an ice cube tray. Leave out the ordinary cubes and keep your glass chilled with a flavorful version.
With popsicle molds, the ultimate summer treat awaits. Skip the glass and pour the wine spritzer straight into the molds. If you're planning a daytime get-together, you'll want to prep these the night before to make sure the popsicles are nicely frozen. Add some flair by including berries or chopped fruit in the mold too. Of course, leave space for the wine; you can eat a fruit salad on the side.
4. Make a batch of sangria
Depending on whichsangria recipeyou use, the drink can contain an element of carbonation. Regardless of if it's club soda or flavored soda, a bubbly quality is cleansing. Not to mention, if you're planning on adding boozy ingredients like brandy, rum, vodka, or flavored liqueurs, a wine spritzer keeps the alcohol content at a manageable level.
Much like with wine spritzer cocktails, your choice of components will depend on the flavors you want to emphasize. If you're going for a white sangria, then a white wine spritzer with a similar-toned spirit is a good place to start. As for juice, consider the wine — is it citrusy, or do tropical aromas stand out? Orange juice or lemonade would work well for tangier styles, whereas pineapple or stonefruit juices would complement the latter. If your favorite wine spritzer is red or rosé, mix it with cranberry juice and load up on fresh berries. As for the extra hit of booze, pour in some brandy, Port, or orange liqueur.
5. Lighten it up
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Wine spritzers can range quite significantly in terms of alcohol content. If you're making the drink yourself, there's a big difference between topping off your glass of wine with a splash of club soda or pouring each in equal parts. Similarly, canned products can easily range from 3% to 12% ABV depending on the proportions and boozy add-ins.
If you're hoping to keep sipping away all day at a weekend music festival, you'll feel much better at the end of it if you lighten up your spritz ... and not with sparkling wine. Extra club soda or sparkling mineral water is an easy way to stay hydrated while enjoying a wine-based drink. Consider diluting boozier canned spritzers or adding a greater amount of club soda when mixing up your own. In the latter case, choose wines with bolder notes to avoid diluting the flavor too much. Sauvignon blanc, malbec, and Spanish rosés are all great options.
6. Mix it with your favorite syrup
There's no better way to add flavor to your drink than with a healthy syrup drizzle. Leave the chocolate and caramel aside and look for fruit, herb, and botanical options. Nowadays, it's easy to find a wide range of syrups at supermarkets, gourmet shops, or liquor stores. Of course, making your own is the best way to customize the flavor profile and sweetness level.
Even ordinary simple syrup will turn your wine spritzer from a pleasantly refreshing beverage into a luscious concoction, amplifying the body and mouthfeel. Don't even get us started on the endless options of fruits; berries, tropical fruit, and citrus all taste delicious in a sweetened, concentrated format. Experiment with different ways to elevate your simple syrup, such as by incorporating tea.
There's no hard rule about mixing syrup into your wine spritzer (aside from making sure to dissolve it properly), so get creative. If you're bored with one flavor, try layering different syrups. Choose a base fruit syrup, say blackberry, and enhance it with a botanical touch — lavender would work wonders. Mix it all into your favorite red wine and top it off with club soda and ice cubes. Other fun combos like pineapple and ginger syrup in a white wine spritzer or peach and cardamom syrups with a rosé drink are sure to satisfy your taste buds.
7. Add bitters
If you're into experimental cocktails, chances are you've dabbled with bitters. The concentrated dose of botanicals is made by steeping ingredients in a neutral spirit. They come in pretty much every flavor profile, including fruits, herbs, flowers, roots, spices, chocolate, coffee, and so on. While some are produced with medicinal claims, the average bitter cocktail isn't an elixir of health. Rather, a few drops are all it takes to infuse your drink with a unique flavor of choice.
If you want to retain the natural qualities of your wine spritzer, mixing in too many add-ins isn't the answer. Instead, add a few drops of bitters to layer a new dimension of taste to your drink. We'd recommend classic Angostura bitters with a red wine spritzer to infuse it with subtle aromas of clove and cinnamon. Citrus bitters would pair well with a zesty white or rosé wine spritzer, while floral bitters (rose or lavender, perhaps?) would be delightful with more aromatic wine varieties. Whatever you choose, a few drops is all it takes.
8. Liven it up with fresh herbs
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Much like fresh herbs can instantly jazz up an ordinary dish, they'll do wonders for your wine spritzer too. There are plenty of options to include, and the deciding factor is mainly your own palate. Mint is a good place to start, as anyone who has sipped on a mojito is familiar with its rejuvenating characteristics. Cocktails are a great place to start if you're looking for more inspiration to add to your repertoire. Rosemary, thyme, and basil regularly make an appearance in mixology, infusing beverages with an herbaceous element that varies in intensity.
To keep the effect subtle, rub the fresh herbs along the lip of your glass. Otherwise, add whole leaves to your drink to avoid having to pick out small bits from your teeth. Lavender may be a flower, but it's also used as an herb in culinary spheres. If you're looking to amplify your rosé spritzer with some heady aromas, it doesn't get simpler than a sprig of lavendare. Alternatively, keep things light with a few basil leaves. A wine spritzer made with a zesty grape like sauvignon blanc or a bold variety like shiraz will do well with a more forward herb such as rosemary.
9. Combine it with liqueurs
Liqueurs are typically infused with fruit, roots, and botanicals, resulting in an intense flavor profile that works well mixed with other ingredients or sipped in small quantities. Thanks to the concentrated aromas, you don't have to add much to taste the effect. Grand Marnier, triple sec, and Cointreau are all orange-based liqueurs that are commonly mixed into cocktails or included in sangria recipes. Meanwhile, other popular liqueurs consist of floral elements, like St-Germain, which is made with elderflower. You could even imbue your wine spritzer with anise notes with a splash of pastis or sambuca or a hit of herbs with crème de menthe.
A classic Burgundian drink — Kir Royale — combines crème de cassis with sparkling wine (or still wine for a Kir). Make your own version by adding the syrupy concoction to a white wine spritzer. A splash of Southern Comfort in a red wine spritzer is an easy way to give it a tropical, caramelized flavor with minimal effort. Similarly, orange liqueurs work well with red wine spritzers since they accent rather than overpower. Choose your favorite liqueur and work backward to match it with a red, white, or rosé wine spritzer.
10. Mix it with fruit juice
If you're a fan of sangria, you'll want to whip up this super simple option. It's a sure way to skip the step where you chop up fruit and combine different liqueurs, spirits, wine, and juice — just go straight for the end goal! Simply pour some juice into your wine spritzer and serve. The best way to guarantee a successful blending of flavors is to start with the wine. Are you choosing something with floral, tropical, citrus, berry, or vanilla notes? Try to identify the primary aromas and pair the wine with a juice with a similar profile.
A pinot grigio wine spritzer will be on the crisper citrine side, so orange juice or lemonade goes well. On the flip side, if you want to tone down those notes, opt for peach or strawberry juice to contrast. Red wine spritzers work well with orange or berry juices, and pomegranate is a great way to add a unique touch. Get creative with your juice choices — pineapple, apricot, and pear make a great match for white and rosé wine spritzers. And if you're totally unsure about where to start, a carton of fruit juice blend is a good beginning.
11. Double up on the wine
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We love wine spritzers because they're light and refreshing ... but sometimes an extra boost of flavor is in order. While added liqueurs, spirits, syrups, and the like are all quick ways to layer on different tastes, sometimes we just want more wine. Sure, an ordinary glass of wine would probably satisfy that desire, but a hot summer day calls for something fizzy, fun, and refreshing. In these cases, an extra splash of wine to concentrate a homemade spritzer is the go-to move.
While we wouldn't recommend mixing two different wines all the time, this is definitely a good time to experiment. Once you start testing out different add-ins, why stick with one bottle of wine? Mix a rosé and white wine for your spritzer, or lighten up a red wine spritzer with a splash of rosé. A word to the wise: Don't pick your best bottles for this endeavor — chances are you'll miss out on the subtleties.