Wine Cocktails

March 27, 2020
Tasting & Learning

Wine cocktails are having a moment right now, and it's no wonder. Pairing wine with other ingredients can help to enhance the flavors of your favorite wines in delightful and delicious new ways. Light, flavorful, and visually appealing, you can make your wine cocktails by the glass or in batches, if you're preparing for a party. Here are some classic wine cocktails to try, and some classic Napa Valley wines to make them with.

Three champagne flutes with French 75 cocktails, lemons, and a champagne cork.

French 75. This classic cocktail is a refreshing blend of gin and Champagne and would be wonderful with a crisp, fresh Brut from Domaine Chandon. Combine 2oz sparkling wine with 2oz gin, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice and 3/4oz simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold and blended (about 20 seconds) then strain into a champagne flute.

From France to Italy, another classic sparkling wine cocktail is the Bellini. This blend of peaches, lemon, prosecco, and a touch of sugar is fruity and refreshing (and makes a wonderful brunch cocktail, if you’re looking to impress with something little more special than the classic mimosa).

While you’re in an Italian frame of mind, why not make an Italian mistake? The Spagliato (which translates to “mistake”) was supposedly invented when a bartender grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin while making a classic Negroni cocktail. Fizzy and bitter, the mix of Campari, vermouth, and effervescent wine makes for a delightful aperitif.

Of course, vermouth is made from wine as well, and some winemakers are making it right here in California. Keep your eyes peeled for both dry and sweet vermouths as you taste your way through Napa Valley.

Spitz aperol cocktail in glasses

If you prefer spicy over spritzy, make a batch of mulled wine to sip by the fire on cooler Napa nights. Zinfandel or Merlot work well as the warm spices enhance the wine’s richness. Spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg are standard but try experimenting with black pepper, fennel seeds, or even bay leaves to make it your own.

Sangria. Hailing from Spain, Sangria is a surprisingly potent blend of wine, citrus fruit and sometimes even brandy. Traditional Sangrias are made with dry reds like Grenache or Tempranillo but for Napa twist, a Pinot Noir will also work beautifully. Depending on the season, make your sangria your own, by incorporating stone fruits, apple, or other seasonally appropriate options. We love this light and fresh sangria recipe by Domaine Chandon.

Overhead view of a large bowl of citrus sangria and someone pouring Chandon sparkling wine

Photo via Domaine Chandon

Which wine cocktails are on your must-try list? Whether you’re celebrating or just sipping, a wine cocktail is a fun way to enjoy some of your go-to Napa Valley Wines. Cheers!