California is known around the world for its delicious wines, from crisp sparklers to rich reds to nuanced Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. Thanks to the talents of the state’s mixologists and bartenders, it’s also a hub for creative cocktails.
While deciding between a lovely glass of California wine and a fabulous cocktail may seem like a difficult choice, a new eBook shows that you can enjoy both—in the same glass. Now available for free download from the California Wine Institute, Fresh & Delicious California Wine Cocktails features easy recipes for seasonal drinks to enjoy while chilling on the patio or joining friends for Zoom happy hours.
“With the warm weather approaching, we created this eBook to show that California wines are not just great on their own for spring and summer sipping, but can be a perfect ingredient in light and refreshing cocktails,” says Nancy Light, Wine Institute’s vice president of communications. “They’re especially delicious when they’re made with other high-quality California-grown produce, like fresh berries and citrus.”
Natalie Migliarini, founder of Beautiful Booze, an internet platform for cocktail lovers, has devoted an entire section of her website to wine cocktails, and feels that the trend is taking off.
"Wine cocktails are making their impact in bars and in homes, especially with the low-ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktail trend, which doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon,” she says. “You can either build your cocktail ingredients around a bottle of wine you have at home, or grab the perfect bottle to go with the ingredients you already have to mix with."
Ziggy Eschliman (also known as Ziggy the Wine Gal), host of the weekly Wine Wednesday radio show and podcast on Sonoma County’s KRSH-FM, points out that wine’s balance of fruit and acidity makes it a great base for cocktails such as the Strawberry Lemon Smash—featured in the eBook—a blend of California sparkling wine, fresh strawberries, and lemon simple syrup.
The drink made its official debut during a recent Instagram Live session with Eschliman and Migliarini. Both experts agreed that although the drink works beautifully with sparkling wine, you could easily substitute a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. “I love how much the strawberry comes through in this drink,” notes Migliarini. “We were able to bring all the flavors together using fresh California produce."
To try the Strawberry Lemon Smash and more fantastic California wine cocktails at home, see the recipe below and download a free copy of Fresh & Delicious California Wine Cocktails.
Strawberry Lemon Smash
A grown-up take on strawberry lemonade that’s sure to win fans with summery flavor and gorgeous color.
- 4-5 fresh strawberries, diced
- 2 lemon wedges
- 2 ounces lemon simple syrup
- California sparkling wine
- Strawberry and lemon wheels, for garnish
Squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges into the bottom of a stemless wine glass, mason jar, or tumbler.
Add the diced strawberries to the lemon juice and muddle (crush) them thoroughly.
Pour in the simple syrup and stir to combine.
Add ice to the glass, then fill with sparkling wine. Stir to combine, then garnish with a strawberry and lemon wheels.
For the fresh lemon simple syrup:
It’s easy to make your own simple syrup—just combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid becomes clear. Then increase the heat to a heavy simmer and cook for two to three minutes and allow to cool. Flavor your syrup with lemon by adding a few lemon wheels (seeds removed) while the syrup is cooking and then straining them out once it’s cool. If you don’t want to make your own syrup, you can purchase lemon simple syrup online or at most specialty beverage retailers.
Source: Fresh & Delicious California Wine Cocktails Wine Institute 2020