Top Wine Cocktails | Other Uses For Tasty Juices

Harry Lambourne
16th February 2024

The name of this article should let you know what you’re in for. We are going to look at some of our top wine cocktails. These will be drinks which include still wine, as opposed to sparkling wine. Sparkling Wine Cocktails are delicious, but they often get far more attention that these top wine cocktails.

So, we will give you a good mix of our top wine cocktails and we guarantee that whatever your particular tipple, there will be an option which is great for you.

Equipment may vary from drink to drink, but we would highly recommend you pick yourself up a large ice cub tray, a cocktail shaker, a strainer, a shot measure and a bar spoon if you’re planning to make cocktails at home.

Let’s look at our top wine cocktails.

Top Wine Cocktails – The New York Sour

We are starting with a beautifully boozy creation that, on paper, doesn’t sound like it would be the nicest drink in the world. After all, you wouldn’t look at Bourbon, Red Wine, Lemon Juice and Egg Whites and think, ‘that’ll be nice together’.

However, it is actually a wonderfully balanced and smooth creation that really shows what can come from a good mixed drink. When you consider that you find some really great whiskey which has been aged in old wine or sherry casks, it doesn’t seem to be such a bad idea.

First, on our list of top wine cocktails, is the New York Sour.

New York Sour Cocktail Recipe | Top Wine Cocktails
New York Sour Cocktail

This drink dates back to the 1880s and was actually first produced in Chicago, not New York as the name would suggest. It has also been called the Brunswick Sour and Claret Snap over time, but New York Sour is the name which has stuck.

It is a variation of the very well known Whiskey Sour. The birth of the Whiskey Sour is thought to be a means of staving of scurvy. Sailors would add lemon to whiskey to give them a vitamin boost and over time this became the drink we know as the Whiskey Sour.

Over time, red wine was introduced to this lovely drink. Traditionally, this would have included a dry red Bordeaux wine, (which explains the old name of ‘Claret Snap’).

Today, we would recommend a simple dry wine, with some prominent fruit flavours and a reasonable degree of body. Merlot does work well and you can find some perfectly reasonable cheap Bordeaux Merlot wines. If you want to keep it traditional, this is the way to go. Similarly, entry level Tempranillo and Grenache do the trick.

The red wine serves to add flavour to the classic Whiskey Sour, but it also really ups the presentation value. The red wine is floated on the egg white foam and it slowly descends through the drink turning it from yellow, to orange and eventually a light crimson colour. Enough about the history, let’s learn how to make the first of our top wine cocktails.

Ingredients for the new York Sour (Serves 2)
  • 30ml Dry, Fruity Red Wine. As we’ve said, we think a simple, cheap Merlot will do the job nicely.
  • 30ml Simple Syrup. This is a key cocktail ingredient and easy to make at home. Check out a simple recipe here.
  • 60ml Lemon Juice. Use fresh lemon juice! It is far superior. You can also use the peel for garnish.
  • 2 Medium Egg Whites. Pre-packaged egg whites are an option, but keep it fresh. You can even save the yolks for Spaghetti Carbonara.
  • Ice. Big Ice Cubes are always better.
  • 120ml of Rye or Bourbon. An easy to access entry-level Bourbon will do the job here. We went with Buffalo Trace. If you want to pick the one that is right for you, then remember that Rye tends to be more herbal and peppery. Whereas Bourbon will be sweeter with more notes of caramel and vanilla.
How To Make A New York Sour
  1. Combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, bourbon and egg white into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake the ingredients. Dry shaking means shaking before you add the ice. This process really helps to froth up the egg white into the velvety texture which you want.
  3. Now, add the ice to the shaker and shake it all up again.
  4. Then, float the red wine. This can be down through a delicate pour, but we recommend doing so over the bottom of a spoon.
  5. Garnish with lemon peel and enjoy this top wine cocktail.
New york Sour Tasting Notes

It is certainly a unique cocktail and deserving of a spot on our list of top wine cocktails. It is balanced and really lets all the individual elements shine.

It is tart and acidic thanks to the lemon juice, but this is balanced out by the dry wine and sweet simple syrup. Then, it possess the slightly smokey, fiery flavours from the Bourbon. All of this is transported into your mouth via the smooth, almost foamy like top to the drink. A real delight and a drink many can make with what they’ve got sitting at home. Don’t miss out on this – it’s easily one of our top wine cocktails.

You can also swap out the eggs for Aquafaba and make this cocktail vegan! To give you some insight, you can read our recipe for a Vegan Whiskey Sour. Vegans should have top wine cocktails as well!

Top Wine Cocktails – KIR

This is not to be confused with a Kir Royale, which mixes Champagne and Crème de Cassis. Although, it is not a million miles away from it. Instead, white wine is used. If you’ve ever been to France and spent a few hours sitting at a café, then you’ll likely have indulged in this already. It is simple, yet delicious and this is why we’ve included it on our list of top wine cocktails. Our next pick is simply – Kir.

How To Make A Kir Cocktail
Kir Cocktail

While it can be located up and down the country, it has it’s home in Burgundy. It combines that same Crème de Cassis with a simple local white wine. Entry level Chablis and Aligoté wines are most common.

The name is thought to come from a man called ‘Félix Kir’ who was once the major of Dijon, (a major city in Burgundy). He was an early proponent of the ‘twinning’ movement. This is where a city is twinned with another place in the world. As an example, Manchester is twinned with St Petersburg, Chemnitz (Germany) and Wuhan. Then, Newcastle is twinned with the Israeli city of Haifa.

Felix used to offer this drink to anyone on a cultural exchange to Dijon and quickly, the drink became known simply as ‘Kir’.

However, some believe that instead Crème de Cassis was simply used to mask a dip in quality for post-war Burgundy wine. Whatever story you choose to believe, we think this certainly belongs on our list of top wine cocktails. It is simple and delicious, what more could you want?

Ingredients For Kir (Serves 2)
  • 450ml Dry White Wine
  • 100ml Crème de Cassis
How To Make A Kir Cocktail
  1. Add the crème de cassis to the bottom of a white wine glass.
  2. Top this up with chilled white wine. You’re done – probably the easiest of our top wine cocktails!
Kir Cocktail Tasting Notes

The tasting notes for this should come as no great surprise. It retains the character of the white wine. If you’re going for a white wine from the Burgundy region, it will be dry and very acidic with fresh citrus notes. The Crème de Cassis balances out this bracing acidity by adding sweetness and the unmistakable taste of blackcurrants.

Top Wine Cocktails – Italian Red Wine Spritz

Now, this may have the word ‘spritz’ in the name, but that simply applies to the dash of soda. In fact, this is where the Italian cocktail term of ‘spritz’ comes from. Hapsburg settlers to Venice found their wines far too strong and would ask for a spray of water to make it more palatable. ‘Spritzen’ is the Germany word for spray. Hence, the ‘Venetian Spritz‘.

Enough history – let us move onto the next addition to our list of top wine cocktails. It’s time to meet the ‘carousel of alcohol’ – also known as the ‘Giostra d’Alcol‘.

How To Make An Italian Red Wine Spritz
How To Make An Italian Red Wine Spritz

This creation was actually the work of an artist, (in the literal sense), rather than a mixologist. It comes from the mind of Italian Futurist Enrico Prampolini. Ever the creative, he has managed to create something truly as avant-garde as his works of art. Nothing is more out there than the garnish which is traditionally used – cheese and chocolate. We’ve opted for orange slice, but you can dare to be bold!

Let’s learn how to make the weirdest of our top wine cocktails.

Ingredients for an Italian Red Wine Spritz
  • 100ml Red Wine. Traditionally, Piedmontese Barbera is used. However, any light and acidic red wine will work. This could be Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais.
  • 50ml Campari.
  • 1/2 tsp Honey
  • 50ml Lemon Soda or high quality Lemonade.
  • 2 x Orange Slices for Garnish, or you can opt for the oddity that is cheese and chocolate.
How To Make An Italian Red Wine Spritz
  1. Combine the red wine, Campari and honey over ice.
  2. Stir strongly.
  3. Top with soda and add your garnish.
Italian Red Wine Spritz Tasting Notes

While the presentation might seem odd, it is a rather straightforward drink and works really well. Red wine adds a touch of body and adds to the acidic nature of the lemon soda. However, this tartness is balanced out by the bitterness of the Campari and the sweetness of the honey. Fruity fun, with just a touch of sugar. Absolutely, this is one of our top wine cocktails.

Top Wine Cocktails – Sangria

You may not consider this a ‘cocktail’ in the truest sense. Yet, Sangria is an all-time classic and we couldn’t create a list of our top wine cocktails and not include this Tapas-friendly staple of both Spain and Portugal.

Pitcher of Sangria
Sangria

The name is actually a tad off-putting. It is a direct translation of the term ‘blood-letting’, where blood is withdrawn from a patient to prevent illness. However, it is more likely derived from the term ‘sangre’ which simply means blood and refers to the the rich and deep red colour which we associate with this drink.

While many think that Romans introduced this drink to the region, as a means of fortifying unsafe drinking water, it remained relatively unknown throughout the globe until it was introduced at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. From here, we couldn’t get enough on the stuff.

Grab yourself a cheap bottle of Tempranillo, a selection of fruit, some sugar and you’re pretty much good to go. Let’s look at the recipe for the final instalment of our list of top wine cocktails.

Ingredients for Sangria (Serves 2-4)
  • 750ml bottle of Spanish Red Wine. Any simple Tempranillo led wine will do.
  • 2 tbsp White Sugar
  • 200ml Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 2 Oranges (Cut into wedges with the skin on)
  • 2 Apples (Diced and cored with the skin on)
  • Ice. Large ice cubes are recommended as they won’t water down the Sangria as quickly.
How To Make Sangria
  1. Add the cut fruit and sugar, then mix these together before adding the ice.
  2. Pour the fresh orange juice into a carafe and stir.
  3. Pour the red wine over the mixture.
  4. Stir the mixture slowly and add more sugar to taste if you think it’s needed.
Sangria Tasting Notes

I think we all know what this tastes like so we’ll be brief. It retains that fresh and vibrant fruit flavours of the wine, but the fruitiness is simply ramped up and sweetened ever so slightly. It’s a great way to use a cheap bottle of red on a hot day and is easily one of the our top wine cocktails.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to our top wine cocktails. Be sure to check out the recipes page of our site. We are always updating it with cocktail recipes, as well as food recipes which always include a perfect wine pairing!


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