Wine cocktails are often the last resort for those looking to polish off a bottle before it goes bad—but that doesn’t mean your options begin and end with Sangria. There are plenty of ways—both old and new—to mix with all types of wine that allow for big flavors and tons of experimentation. While vino opens up the playing field even more for cocktailians, wine-tails can also be a revelation for wine lovers who are hesitant to part with even an ounce of their precious pinot. From classics like Sangria to innovative concoctions that pair red wine with chocolate, here are our 11 favorite wine-tails.
The 11 Best Cocktails to Mix With Wine
Crafty ancient Romans mixed wine with water to make the water safe to drink. Thus, they invented Sangria about 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, however, we make Sangria just for the fun of it. While you can make it with white wine, rosé or, hell, even blue wine, the classic will always be red.
Wine not only works well as a base for cocktails, but it’s also a great modifier for liquor-based classics. A Chicago bartender in the 1880s realized that a float of red wine atop a Whiskey Sour gave the drink an extra fruity oomph, but it wasn’t until the cocktail hit New York during Prohibition that everyone else caught on to the wonders of the wine topper.
Though you can pour any booze into a steaming mug of hot chocolate and call it a day, skipping liquor in favor of red wine is a subtler approach to spiking the comforting cocoa beverage. A topping of whipped cream and red velvet cake crumbs, on the other hand, is a not-so-subtle way to decadently build on the ruby-tinged theme.
In this Swedish take on the centuries-old mulled wine, vino gets a helping hand from its fortified cousin port, as well as a dash of strong brandy. Serve this steaming spiced wine around the Christmas tree to warm your soul and your tummy.
Sharing a bottle of wine is always better than finishing one off all by your lonesome—and the same rule applies to wine cocktails, like this party-sized twist on the New York Sour. This recipe uses a lemon syrup known as oleo saccharum that will take a bit of prep, but it’s well worth it for all the compliments it will earn from friends on your mixology skills.
Rosé has become the de facto pink drink of summer, but there’s one sure way to improve the rosy wine for excessively scorching afternoons: Make it into a slushie. Slurping the pink-hued frozen drink will not only taste like summer, but it will also help cool you down in a jiff. Plus, since the simple mix is shaken in a plastic bag, you’ll have your Frosé faster than an overhyped Hamptons watering hole can post about it on Twitter.
Mixing red wine and Coke might sound crazy—but it turns out the unlikely pairing is just crazy enough to work. Something magical happens when the dark cola fizz hits a luscious red wine. Though the drink originally became popular in Spain as the “poor man’s Cuba Libre,” you’ll be richly rewarded for betting on the unconventional duo.
Rosé may be a great summer sipper on its own, but adding a plop of strawberry ice cream in your wine glass is the next-level summer move you need in your life. A measure of slightly bitter Aperol evens out the flavor of this sweet pink on pink combo. The best part is, it’s so simple you’ll be sitting pretty with a tall float-like cocktail in no time.
Long before rosé and Frosé became the official drinks of summer, the French were topping rum-spiked granitas with white wine. This fruity and frothy libation was popular among the high class crowd of the early 20th century and was even served to diners right before the Titanic went down.
Riesling’s sweeter notes play well with others, especially in sour cocktails. This variation on a Pisco Sour incorporates seasonal fruit cordials to keep things loose, making it an excellent framework to play with all sorts of sweet, sour and fruity flavors. So whatever fruity flavors you’re craving, the Main Street Sour is the way to go.
Grapefruit Lime Cordial
Mulled wine usually calls for a bold and fruity red wine, but this cocktail features a white wine-based alternative that shows a lighter side of the holiday drink. Used as a vermouth substitute, the mulled wine is paired with gin for the ultimate holiday-friendly Martini.
Mulled White Wine