Most wine snobs experts agree that there are only a handful of very specific times which one may open a bottle of wine and mix its contents with… well, anything. Super-traditional winemakers might wince at the idea that the literal fruits of their labor might be tainted with foreign flavoring, where more modern folks don’t care how you're drinking their wine — as long as you're drinking their wine. Like any food or beverage out there, the best way to enjoy something is however you find it most pleasing, regardless of what the dusty textbooks have to say about it. That said, enjoy this short rundown of "established" drinks as a guide for your own experimentation with wine cocktails.

The most well known and probably most differently tasting, depending on who made it, would be Sangria. Typical recipes include some combination of either red or white wine, brandy, fruit and fruit juice. Depending on your preferences, there are some styles sweeter than others but don't forget the not-at-all-true legend describing conception of the drink:

On a calm Sunday morning, after a very successful soirée the night before, the host and hostess awoke to find guests still in their home, inclined to keep the party going. Thus, the opened and half-emptied bottles of wine and liquor and juice were poured into bowls and pitchers along with the fruit that had also been sitting out all night... minimizing waste and maximizing entertainment.

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The moral of this story is that the spirit of the drink is one of "hair of the dog" via recycling food and drink but unless you find yourself in a similar predicament, it's best served with fresh ingredients - your guests will appreciate the effort.

Yet when it comes to brunch, sangria seems to be overlooked in lieu of other wine cocktails; typically bubbly and still with fruit. While recipes for a Mimosa might call for equal parts Champagne and orange juice, there is really no reason to spend the extra cash on a "true Champagne" from the namesake French province when any dry sparkling wine will mix just fine (and more affordably). Perhaps stay away from Prosecco as those tend to be a bit sweeter and should be reserved Mimosa's Italian cousin, Bellini: 2 parts Prosecco, 1 part peach purée.

The most refreshing and modern derivative of these bubbly drinks would be the flagship cocktail for the elderflower liqueur, St. Germain: 2 parts sparkling wine, 2 parts sparkling water, 1.5 parts St. Germain. The addition of seltzer lightens the drink and makes it nearly akin to a classic wine Spritzer, e.g. Blanc Limé.

All this is said to make the case that splashing a few of your own additives into your wine glass should be free from shame and judgment. There was a time before these cocktails existed and this group won't be the definitive list forever, so feel free to break the rules and get creative. Top off a Malbec with frozen blueberries during the summer heat and if it raises any eyebrows, proudly say that it's minimalist sangria. Add a shot of ginger beer to some rosé and tell your friends it's what they do in the Caribbean (they don't, but your friends will want to try one!) And if your mother-in-law asks for ice cubes in her Chardonnay… well, let's not get crazy.

 

For more drink ideas and tastings visit www.nosvino.com