It may sound a bit old-fashioned, but wine spritzers have saved many a happy hour. If the doorbell rings and neighbors pop in unannounced (or maybe for an impromptu potluck), a quick and satisfying cocktail option is to pull out a bottle of wine and some club soda and whip a few spritzers together.
Throw a slice of orange on top as a garnish and you really look like you know what you’re doing.
Traditionally, you’d pour an off-dry, perhaps sweet-style white wine such as a riesling, but the newest incarnations include just about anything, including reds. What to do with all those hulking merlots and cabs you have sitting around the pantry? Pour them over ice with a splash of club soda and perhaps another dash of orange juice, garnish it with a fresh whole strawberry, and now you have something special. I call it quick and easy sangria, only now your guests will feel like they’re sipping something a bit more exotic.
I read about a variation on the classic bellini by celeb chef Mario Batali that I had to try for myself. He peeled and pitted six fresh peaches, 2 pints of strawberries and juiced four pink grapefruits and created a puree with all the ingredients in a blender. He then filled champagne flutes one-third full with the mixture and the rest with a sweet Italian spumante sparkling wine and stirred. I love all the ingredients individually, but wasn’t sure how it would taste combined. The resulting cocktail was fresh, crisp and lively — perfect for a weekend brunch or get-together.
I’ve served the quick and easy sangria several times, but now I’m dabbling with other red and white wine cocktails and spritzers. Here are a few worth experimenting with on your own, or when the gang shows up on your doorstep.
CLASSIC (RED OR WHITE) WINE SPRITZER
3 ounces red or white wine
Sparkling water or club soda
Preparation: Pour wine into wine glass over ice. Fill with sparkling water and garnish with the lemon twist.
RED WINE LEMONADE
2 ounces dry red wine
2 tablespoons bar (or powdered) sugar
Preparation: Juice lemon into collins glass and add sugar. Stir until dissolved. Fill glass with ice and fill nearly to top. Float red wine on top and garnish with cherry. Serve with straw.
1 1/2 ounces Chambord (black raspberry liqueur)
3 ounces chilled champagne
Preparation: Fill a cooler or wine glass with ice. Add Chambord and champagne. Top off with club soda.
1 cup strawberries, cleaned and diced
3 whole kiwis, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup strawberry liqueur such as Crème de Fraise or schnapps
1 cup white grape juice
1 bottle rosé wine
1 liter sparking water
Strawberries and kiwi slices for garnish
Preparation: In a half-gallon pitcher, add strawberries, kiwis and liqueur and lightly muddle. Add grape juice and wine and stir. Let steep and chill for four hours (overnight preferred). Top off pitcher with sparkling water before serving and lightly stir. Serve over ice in white wine glasses. Garnish with a whole strawberry and kiwi slice.
TOP SHELF MIMOSA
Dry sparkling wine or champagne (chilled)
1 ounce orange liqueur such as Cointreau
Whole fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
Preparation: In a champagne flute, add one orange slice, strawberry and sugar and gently muddle. Add orange liqueur and gently muddle. Fill with sparkling wine and serve.
THREE-GRAIN PEANUT BREAD
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours
(10 minutes active)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices or cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
Cook’s note: For more whole grains, substitute white whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose. And if you see a bargain on brown bananas at the grocer, add a few of those, too. Made as directed, this recipe costs just $1.61 per recipe, or 16 cents per serving.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray or oil.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, dry milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spices, baking powder and salt.
Add the peanut butter and use two butter knives to cut the peanut butter into the dry ingredients until looks coarse and crumbly. Alternatively, combine all of the dry ingredients and the peanut butter in a food processor and pulse.
In a small bow, beat together the egg and milk. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.
Source: Recipe adapted from the Recipe Finder site of the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection
Got a wine- and spirits-related question you’d like to see addressed in a column? Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.