While you can never go wrong serving champagne or sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day, sometimes it is better to get a little more creative and serve a tantalizing wine cocktail. After all, wine has been used as a base for cocktails as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used to add honey, spices, and different types of fruit to wine.
With this in mind, we consulted some wine experts and sommeliers who provided recipes for some of their favorite wine cocktails. These are ideal to serve as an aperitif before a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, and one can even be served as dessert. Or they work equally well for a Valentine’s Day party with friends and family. Try your hand as a wine mixologist and see which one is the crowd favorite.
#1) Classic French Kir with a Raspberry Twist
Benoit Lecat, wine professor and part-time sommelier, learned this unique twist on the classic French Kir cocktail while living and working in Burgundy, France. “The kir cocktail was invented by Canon Kir, who was the mayor of Dijon in the mid 1900’s,” said Lecat in a phone interview. “He combined white wine made from the high-acid Aligoté grape with sweet crème de cassis, which is a local product in Burgundy.” The result is a beautifully colored dark pink cocktail with a sweet currant note and the cleansing finish of the high-acid white wine.
“But today kirs can be produced with any dry white wine and many different fruit liquors,” commented Lecat, “such as raspberry, plum, wild peach, strawberry, cherry, and occasionally apricot.” He believes that for Valentine’s Day making a kir with a raspberry liquor is a good choice.
Recipe: Mix 2/3 chilled dry white wine with 1/3 raspberry liqueur (like Chambord) in a wine glass. Stir, and add several fresh raspberries (optional) to the glass before serving. Toast to love and friendship. (Note: a non-alcoholic version can be made with non-alcoholic white wine and red grenadine syrup.)
#2) Iberian Kiss (Beso Iberico) Wine Cocktail
Andrea Robinson, Master Sommelier and wine consultant, recommends a seductive wine cocktail from Portugal. With the title, ‘Iberian Kiss’, Robinson cautions against “substituting anything labeled ‘Port’ or ‘Sherry’ from places other than the regions of origin in the Iberian peninsula – the quality and authenticity are not there,” she stated in an email interview.
Recipe: 4 oz White Port, ¾ oz Manzanilla or Spanish Fino Sherry, and 1 1/2 inch piece fresh orange peel. Pre-chill a martini glass in the freezer or fridge. In an ice-filled mixing glass, add the white Port, then the Sherry. Stir with a bar spoon or long-handled teaspoon for 15 seconds. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Grasp each end of the orange peel with your thumbs and forefingers and twist over the top of the cocktail (this will spray a fragrant mist of the orange oil over the surface of the drink), then drop the peel into the drink. Serve immediately.
“When I last made this recipe,” reported Robinson, “I used Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry, but the new one from Cockburn’s called White Heights would also be fantastic. For the sherry, I usually have La Gitana Manzanilla in the fridge for this. For the orange peel,” she continued, “ I use a vegetable peeler to peel off just the shiny/oily top layer, avoiding the deeper white pith.” This wine cocktail packs a punch with an alcohol level around 16 – 17%, and can start Valentine’s Day celebrations off on a high note.
#3) Chocolate Martini Red Wine Frappé
Karen Davidson, marketing coordinator with Nectar of the Vine, a company that specializes in wine and spirits cocktail mixes, describes this drink as ‘phenomenal.’ “It is great for Valentine’s Day,” she said in a phone interview. “It combines chocolate and red wine, and last year I added strawberries and whip cream.”
Recipe: In a 2-quart pitcher, mix 1 bottle of your favorite dry red wine (750ml/24oz bottle), an equal amount of water, and 1 packet of Chocolate Martini Frappé mix (10oz). Stir well and freeze for 3-4 hours or longer. Thaw for 20-30 minutes, mix with a wire whisk or smooth in blender to desired consistency. Serve in a chilled martini glass with the rim dipped in chocolate syrup. Optional: add sliced strawberries and whip cream on top.
“You can also make a warm version,” stated Davidson. “Just put the ingredients in a pot on low for 20-30 minutes.” Whether you serve it chilled or hot, this is a delectable wine cocktail for Valentine’s Day that can be served before dinner, or also as dessert.
#4) Torrontés Tango with Watermelon
Jimena Estrella Orrego, a professor and wine expert in Mendoza, Argentina, shared this delectable wine cocktail recipe. In Argentina they scoop out fresh watermelon and turn it into juice, and then mix it with chilled Torrontés wine. It is usually served as an aperitif, and is refreshing and delightful – especially because the white floral notes of Torrontés are lifted and enhanced with the luscious fruit of the watermelon. However, if Torrontés is not available, Argentinians will often mix the watermelon juice with other white wines.
Recipe: Combine 3 ounces freshly blended watermelon juice (seedless), 3 ounces of chilled Torrontés wine, 1/2 teaspoon Rose’s Grenadine, and ice cubes in a martini shaker. Shake for 30 seconds (and do a little tango with a rose in your mouth), and then strain into a chilled martini or wine glass. Garnish with a fresh rose petal on top. Optional: include 5 drops of rose water and/or 2 teaspoons Watermelon Vodka to the mix before shaking.
The result is a pale pink cocktail that smells and tastes delicious. For Valentine’s Day, serve with a bouquet of pink roses.
#5) French 75 with a Pink Theme
Curtis Mann, Master of Wine and Group President of Alcohol for Albertsons
“You can use a Crémant d’Alsace rosé like Lucien Albrecht for the sparkling wine,” he suggested in a text interview. “The bright acidity and light red fruits (of the wine) melds well with gin, lemon and a touch of sweetness. Also the darker pink color is quite appropriate for Valentine’s.” He added, “If you use a lighter colored crémant rosé wine like a Bourgogne, the lemon turns the rose a peach color.” Therefore, a pink Alsatian sparkling wine creates a bolder pink color for the cocktail.
Recipe: Add 1 oz gin, ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ oz simple syrup, and ice to a martini shaker. Strain into a champagne flute, top with 3 ounces pink Crémant d’Alsace sparkling rosé wine, and garnish with a strawberry slice.
#6) Blood Orange Rose 75
Chris Sawyer, Sommelier to the Stars, wine writer, and consultant, also enjoys French 75 wine cocktails, but he modifies the traditional recipe to include American sparkling rosé wine, juice of a blood orange, a red cherry, and a rose petal for Valentine’s Day.
Recipe: Add 1 oz gin, ½ oz simple syrup, ½ oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice, and ice to a martini shaker. Strain into a Champagne flute or gin glass, and then top with 3 oz of American sparkling rosé wine. Drop a red cherry into the glass, and garnish with a slice of blood orange and a rose petal.
“The Blood Orange Rose 75 version is more ‘lovey-dovey’ for Valentine’s Day,” he said in a phone interview. “It is not the traditional yellow color, but a more brilliant pink. I like to use American sparkling rosé wine, such as Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé, combined with blood orange juice, because it is fruiter, tangier and has a really cool color. People love it, and Valentine’s Day is all about love.”
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