Festive wines that will spice things up

Over the next few weeks why not try serving up your wine in some traditional holiday inspired cocktails?

  • Dec. 21, 2011 4:00 p.m.

~By Andrea Pollock

Over the next few weeks why not try serving up your wine in some traditional holiday inspired cocktails?

With New Years Eve right around the corner most people will be toasting with some sparkling wines; a wonderful alternative and chic twist to this holiday favourite is to dress up your sparkling wine as a punch cocktail.  Another classic cold weather favourite is mulled wine which is a combination of warmed wine and spices; this is a holiday treat that will also fill your house with a wonderful spicy smell that is super seasonal.  Below are a couple of basic recipes that are guidelines for you to create your own festive recipe tweaked to your taste.  So have fun and enjoy some wine cocktails with friends.

Sparkling wine punch – as an alternative to the regular champagne at midnight moment, a sparkling wine punch can be just as perfect and still get served up nicely in those champagne flutes.  A perfect punch can be made by combining one bottle of dry white sparkling wine, white cranberry juice and either soda water or sprite depending on how much sweetness you are looking for.  A lovely garnish for this drink is some cranberries and strawberry slices…. and in the case you are looking for some extra punch in your cocktail you can always spike this with some blueberry vodka or lychee liquor.

Mulled wine – so this is an old world classic that is a serious crowd pleaser.  The quantities listed are just a guideline, as you try this recipe you can adjust to your palate, and you will find that the flavour changes slightly depending on the base wine that you use.  I would recommend finding a low tannin wine that has fruity characteristics like a merlot.  This is also the perfect recipe to use a boxed or homemade wine as well.  Warm up a litre of red wine, but don’t let it boil.  Add about 2/3 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of Brandy, about 8 cloves, 2 sticks of cinnamon, a hefty grating of fresh ginger and some allspice.  Zest some orange peel into your wine mixture and slice up the entire orange and add it into your brew.  The wine should warm for about 25 minutes, and the sugar should dissolve completely.  For serving, use a ladle and leave the seasonings behind.

Here are two wines that would make perfect starters for these recipes:

Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio

A nice, fresh, clean nose with a little bit of melon and leafy tree blossoms.  The palate doesn’t show much of a dominant flavour – it is a pleasant blend of upfront citrus sweetness, balanced acidity and lasting effervescence.  86/100 (September 2nd, 2011)

Painted Turtle Merlot – [British Columbia]

A simple nose with only one layer – dusty fruit the palate is more favourable with a very light body, low tannins and clean flavours of light earth and oak.  85/100 (March 24, 2011)