Now that we’re in the thick of summer, there are myriad occasions to imbibe responsibly and irresponsibly (wink). As you know, when the wine gets flowing, things heat up.
While I will never condone pouring your Riesling on the rocks, there are a number of ways to enjoy a cooler version of your favorite bottle.
Let’s start with white. Imagine you’ve planned a first date at a quaint little lunch place. Temperatures are hitting triple digits and you’ve already sweat through your no-fail first-date sundress. Order something reasonably priced, but with a lot of flavor: New Zealand or California Sauvignon Blancs (Try Goose Bay Kosher Sauvignon Blanc), Rieslings from Germany or Austria, or richly aromatic Trentino or Sicilian blends from Sicily (Try Kaltern Caldaro Alto Bianco, a sumptuous combination of Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Kerner). Then ask for some ice-cold seltzer and a cup of ice. Depending on what you and your date order (and how much you both feel like relaxing or sweating), mix up your own spritz to taste. You’ll enjoy the acidity and the aromas of the wine without all the alcoholic heat. If anyone looks at you funny, remind them that back in Venice, during the Austrian occupation, foreign soldiers watered down the potent white wines from Veneto and nearby Friuli to keep their cool and their control. The tradition held. Today the “spritz” prevails on its own, or with a dash of Aperol bitters, for the cocktail that’s all the rage across the Atlantic. You can find an Aperol Spritz just about anywhere these days. This fun fact also makes for clever date banter.
Having company for dinner? Charm him or her straight away with the cooling and colorful cocktail. It has become trendy to mix them up with Aperol and Prosecco, but I prefer the traditional recipe:
1 part Aperol
2 parts Seltzer
Whatever recipe you use, be plentiful with the ice and garnish your drink with a fat slice of orange.
Planned a picnic date? Mix up a cooler of Aperol Spritz or Sangria (see below) for an afternoon of chilly wine that will still deliver a punch.
Another way to have your white wine and drink it too (without breaking out into an instant sweat) is popsicles. After a steamy session of third-date “bonding,” you’ll both appreciate the refreshment of frozen wine on a stick. The key is keeping the alcohol percentage under 12 percent in order for the ice to freeze uniformly.
Add your spritz or zesty blends of white wine, juice, citrus zest, and chopped mint. Match your wine and juice by flavor. Use Grapefruit with Sauvignon or Prosecco with peach or orange. You only need a touch of juice to bring your brew to optimal freezing point, but as in all things, experimentation is also great fun…
Contrary to popular opinion, red wine can, in fact, be enjoyed cold. In some cases it’s preferable. For one thing, cold masks defects. You didn’t hear this from me, but if you find yourself serving a budget-friendly bottle with less than elegant aromas, serve it slightly chilled. On the other hand, plenty of wines are traditionally served chilled, especially in hot climate regions in central and southern Italy and Spain. When you’re eating outside in the scathing sun, your wine ought to start out ice-cold in order to come to temperature throughout the meal.
Out for a dinner date at a charming sidewalk café? Don’t hesitate to order your red chilled. Leave it on the table as you woo each other. The bottle will start sweating long before you do.
Last but not least, Sangria. White or red, Sangria is not only a great way to enjoy a cooler version of vino, but it is also the solution to leftover half-bottles. That is traditionally the story behind Sangria. The fruit juice masks slightly acrid aromas in a tired bottle. Wake up side by side with a party to clean up after?
Instead of mimosas, revive yourselves with some Sangria. Recipes abound, and of course you can up the intensity with Triple Sec-soaked fruit. But even some slapdash sangria made with wine, orange juice and some sliced fruit offers a crisp pick me up.
The more flavor in your red wine, the more intense it will be. Try Weinstock Select
Mendocino Country Alicante Bouschet and Binyamina Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee, both are big, bold (and Kosher) wines. No concern for K? Try Mille Bardolino. It comes in a thousand-liter bottle. The Veneto red is easy to drink, smooth and fruitful.