Summer Water — Sipping on Sunshine With Cool Wine Cocktails

A refreshing wine cocktail can transport you to almost anywhere. Perhaps that vacation you were planning didn’t shake out exactly as you had imagined it would back in February. I feel you! But don’t despair – you can sip on some sunshine and take a little trip with one of these delightful wine cocktail recipes!

You don’t have to be a seasoned mixologist to shake-up a refreshing, inventive cocktail with some things in your pantry, refrigerator, or the produce section of a market.  Nor do you have to settle for another pitcher of sangria or Margaritas (with a mix from Costco) if you’re looking for something with a little more style. Wine cocktails are an incredibly simple way to enjoy an invigorating drink in the heat without it being ultra-boozy or overly-sweet. 

For these cocktails, as with most mixed drinks, it’s best to use a wine you already like. It doesn’t have to be expensive (unless you want it to be!) – just something you’d otherwise enjoy straight out of the bottle. 

Rosé Wine Cocktails

Rosé is the official wine of summertime, and we will never tire of its transformational “exotic location” sunset palette,  so it only makes sense to use it in a thirst-quenching cocktail. From easy to classic, classic to tropical, rosé can enliven just about any summer drink. 

Rose wine cocktail - Elderflower Garden Party

Elderflower Garden Party

This cocktail comes together in no time at all and transports you to the English countryside from your own backyard. Layout a picnic on the lawn, close your eyes and breathe in the sweet and fragrant aromas of elderflower and lemon. It’s as easy to drink as it is to make.

3 oz Lemonade
½ oz Elderflower Cordial – I adore Belvoir Elderflower Cordial for its delicate floral perfume and light sweetness, without tasting fake or soapy.
Rosé or Sparkling Rosé

Fill a 12 oz glass with ice. Pour in the lemonade followed by the elderflower cordial. Give it a little stir, then fill the glass up the rest of the way with Rosé.

Rose wine cockail - Blushing 75 Empress Gin

Blushing 75

Dreaming about a summer sunset in France? This calls for a colorful twist on a tried-and-true favorite. In this French 75 riff, we’re using Brut Rosé instead of champagne. But the real magic happens using the naturally violet-hued Empress Gin, infused with butterfly pea blossoms for its stunning signature color. Depending on the acidity of your mixers, Empress Gin changes color, ranging from a pinkish-lavender to deep indigo. The purple to pink ombre effect is especially delightful regardless of where you’re watching the sunset. 

1 oz Empress Gin
½ oz Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ oz Simple Syrup*
3 oz Brut Rosé
Lemon twist to garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Strain into a champagne flute or coupe. Top with Brut rosé, and a small splash of gin on top for the ombre effect. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Make ahead: Simple syrup is 1:1 water to sugar, brought just to boil to completely dissolve the sugar, and cooled. You can easily substitute agave syrup for the sugar if you wish.

Rose Margaritas

Rosé Margarita

If rosé is the wine of summertime, and margaritas are the classic mixed drink of summer, wouldn’t it be even more fun to bring them together? If you can’t stop thinking about sipping margaritas on the coast of Baja while you’re stuck working from home, pick up a handful of tacos from your favorite taco spot and make a large batch of these Rosé Margaritas from Food52. Salt rims are optional, guac is not.

Red Wine Cocktails

If you didn’t think that red wine was a summery drink, think again. No longer relegated to the role of cloyingly sweet sangria, red wine cocktails make for a more sophisticated summer drink with far less effort than you might expect. 

Red wine cocktails - Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano

The Spanish call it the “Red wine of summer”, and this uncomplicated red wine cocktail is a fast way to cool off like a local in Barcelona. Essentially it’s one part red wine to one part lemon-lime soda over ice in a wine glass. I recommend a light to medium-bodied red such as Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Gamay, or Grignolino.  Garnish with a slice of lemon, and a splash of vermouth to finish if you prefer. You can be as adventurous as you want to with your soda choice, opting for anything from Sprite to your favorite organic, flavored sparkling water. ¡Salud!

Red wine cocktails - Second Summer Poached Pear

Second Summer Poached Pear

At this point, you may be emotionally ready for Autumn, but still physically struggling through the hot summer days. This spiced cocktail brings you some much-needed relief from the heat with a taste of what’s to come. Inspired by the classic red wine poached pear dessert, this cocktail is great at the end of a meal or with an indulgent cheese plate. 

4 oz Pear nectar
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Agave Syrup
1 oz Spiced rum
½ oz Dry red wine
Cinnamon stick and fresh pear slices to garnish

Pour nectar, spiced rum, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a rocks glass over fresh ice. To float the red wine on top, smoothly pour the wine over the back of a spoon into the glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and slices of fresh pear.

White Wine Cocktails

It doesn’t get much easier to make a satisfying wine cocktail than with a crisp and cold white wine. From brunch to beach bonfire, these white wine cocktails satisfy all day long.

White wine cocktails - white wine spritzer

White Wine Spritzer v2.0

Keep it simple with a white wine spritzer, but get creative with your mixers! Classically, a spritzer is 3 parts white wine to one part soda. With the incredible variety of flavored sparkling waters on the market, the classic spritzer can be dressed up in a million different ways. 

3 oz White wine
2 oz La Croix Pastèque (Watermelon)
¼ cup Cubed fresh watermelon & strawberries
Fresh mint to garnish

3 oz White wine
1 ½ oz Owl’s Brew Boozy Tea: White tea, raspberry & watermelon
Stir in fresh raspberries 

white wine cocktails - Kir Royale

Kir Royale

It’s time for this cocktail hour gem to make a comeback. Put a little film noir into your summer evening.  And, be sure to wear something black and accessorize with some bling.  This lovely little drink is a perfect foil for TCM’s Noir Alley on Saturdays or a foreign film on Netflix. Crème de cassis is a lovely complement to almost any wine it’s paired with. Lush with the flavor of summer berries, this sparkling white wine cocktail is flexible – so if you want to try it with a non-sparkling white or even a light red or rosé, give it a shot!

3 oz Sparkling white wine, dry
¼ oz Crème de cassis
Blackberries, blueberries or raspberries to float, 2-3 per glass

Make sure your wine and crème de cassis are very cold since this drink isn’t served on ice. Pour everything into a flute or coupe and enjoy by the pool!


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Contributor:  Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS; Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers; International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson, and Educator.  As a television and video producer/spokesperson, she is the winner of several national and international broadcasting awards.

Images courtesy: Getty Images,,, Video courtesy of the author

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