This summer has been too damn hot and (in my part of the world) humid for normal alcohol consumption. On a normal day, I am not a sipper. I am a gulper. Of water, of tea — hot or cold –, and wine, my beverage of choice. Add the hazy, hot, and humid factors and you would think that I was a camel, sucking up everything wet the oasis has to offer.
But that kind of hurry can’t be applied to alcohol. I would keel over and instead of being relaxing or fun, the scene would just get ugly. So in the summer, especially in this summer, I have resorted to what I like to call sissy drinks. Low alcohol, lots of non-alcoholic liquids added, over lots of ice.
You may laugh, you may make unfavorable references to the era of Bartles & James, wine coolers and the like, but it works for me. Especially when you can get a bottle of Portuguese vinho verde with a convenient screw top for $4.99 at my local liquor store and make it last for days , with no craziness, no pain, and no dehydration. Sounds good, right? And anyway I suspect you may already be throwing cubes of ice into your white, or (gasp!) red, in secret. Room temperature in my house right now is 81°. That is no temperature at which to serve wine.
Vinho verde, or green wine, is a very light, slightly fizzy, and somewhat citric wine from the northern regions of Portugal. It only has 9.5-10 percent alcohol usually, compared to 13 or 14 percent in most of the wines I see today. It runs from about $5 – 8 a bottle around here. You can, of course, drink it straight, but it makes for a friendly blending wine too, and at that price, I don’t feel an underlying obligation to treat it with any reverence. This is a cheap date!
So the first recipe is a basic cooler with vinho verde. The second is a very simple Orange-Mango Wine Spritzer (yes, I have said it, spritzer. Spritzer, spritzer, spritzer. And I am unashamed.) that we served at a summer barbecue as a refreshing welcome drink that takes the edge off without being too strong. It was very well received (Nancy and Pat, this one’s for you!). Both recipes are, of course, very flexible, so play with the proportions until you find what you like!
1 part Vinho verde
1 part Seltzer
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
Pour all ingredients into a glass full of ice, stir, and enjoy.
Orange Mango Wine Spritzer
1 bottle sweet white wine
2 Cups orange mango juice, plus a squeeze of fresh orange juice
Squeeze of fresh lemon
¼ Cup seltzer
(optional garnish: lemon/orange slices)
In a pitcher, mix wine, orange mango juice, and lemon. Top with seltzer. Garnish with fruit. Serve over ice.