It’s Summer Wine and the Living is Easy

strawberry belliniIt is here!  Summer Time!!  Oh, what a fine time it is.  Time for picnics, patio parties, barbeques, brunches, midnight sparklers and everything in between.  So…what to serve?  That depends on your setting, your guests and what is growing in your neighborhood.

Now is the time to mix up those Sangrias, Bellinis, Mimosas and wine cocktails.  Mixing your wine with fruit, fruit juice and other ingredients allows the wine to go farther, initially.  Unfortunately, a pitcher of Sangria or Bellinis can be so tasty your guests will end up drinking twice as much.  Be sure to stock up and be prepared to make several batches.

For a gathering that starts early in the day, such as a brunch or breakfast buffet, I recommend Bellinis or Mimosas.  These wine drinks are fruity, sweet and refreshing.  Perfect for any gathering that is before 2:00 pm.  If you want to serve these in a nonalcoholic fashion, substitute ginger ale for the wine.

Strawberry Bellini

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped, sliced or whole
  • 1 cup peach or strawberry nectar
  • 1 bottle Prosecco, Champagne or other sparkling white wine, preferably not too dry.

Puree the strawberries and nectar in a blender,  Fill a champagne glass about 1/3 full with the fruit, top with the sparkling wine, serve immediately.

You can have a do-it-yourself Bellini Bar with several different fruits,  Use fresh or frozen peaches, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries or blackberries.  Get creative, use kiwi, apricots or cherries!  Puree several cups of each fruit, washing the blender in between, with a 1/4 cup of simple syrup (see my recipe for simple syrup below).  Put the fruits into a bowl and refrigerate.  When you’re ready to serve the Bellinis, put the bowls of fruit out, put the bottle of Prosecco or other wine into an ice bucket and there you have it.  Your guests can choose their favorite fruit, putting 2 to 4 tablespoons of fruit into a glass and topping it off with the wine.

Pineapple Orange Mimosa

  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons grenadine
  • 1 bottle Champagne (or sparkling wine in a pinch)Mimosa

A Mimosa is basically orange juice with sparkling wine (usually Champagne).  This recipe is a bit different with the addition of the pineapple juice and grenadine.  Mix the juices and grenadine together.  Put equal parts of the juices and Champagne in a Champagne flute.  Serve immediately.

Bellinis and Mimosas are beautiful, colorful drinks.  They are on the sweet side of cocktails and pair well with all savory breakfast foods such as quiche, frittatas, omelets, basically all egg recipes.  I would hesitate to pair these with the sugary side of breakfast such as anything served with syrup because of the sweetness in the drink.

PeachSangria4For those afternoon patio parties, garden parties, picnics, beach parties;  my favorite beverage is  White Peach Sangria.  Unfortunately for me, it is difficult to find fresh peaches in my area.  I get around this by using frozen peaches.  I use the frozen peaches without added sugar.  If you are lucky and live in an area with access to fresh peaches, by all means use them.  Here is my recipe:

White Peach Sangria

  • 2 large peaches sliced (should equal about a pound)
  • 3/4 cup of peach schnapps (or other peach liqueur)
  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio, on the dry side
  • 1/2 liter ginger ale (more or less to your own taste).

If you’re using frozen peaches, keep them frozen until preparing the Sangria, this will keep it colder longer.  Put your peaches in the bottom of a pitcher, pour in the wine and peach liqueur and stir.  Add the ginger ale just before serving,   The ginger ale will add bubbles to the Sangria and give it some sparkle.  If you want this Sangria sweeter, make a simple syrup and pour that over the peaches before adding the other liquids.  Simple Syrup is 2 parts sugar to one part water.  Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar.  Stir to dissolve and once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat.  Do not boil for too long or the syrup will be too thick.  You can store what you do not use in your refrigerator.

This is a lovely crisp Sangria that works well with luncheons and picnics.  Chicken, fish, pasta, anything with a lightly seasoned touch will pair beautifully with this.Highway_12_2011_Red_Wine_Blend_1024x1024

Barbeques, cocktail parties and dinners are when I would bring out the red Sangrias and wine cocktails.  A fun red wine cocktail is the Red Blend Fizz.

Red Blend Fizz

  • 8 oz.red wine blend (Red wine blend can be a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot or any red wine)
  • 2 oz. raspberry schnapps
  • 2 ounce lime juice
  • ginger ale

Shake all ingredients except ginger ale . Strain into a Collins glass over ice. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wedge and raspberry.

redwine cocktailThis cocktail may cause a comment or two from your old-school Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo drinkers but it is a fun red wine cocktail to serve.

Red Wine Sangria

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups spiced rum – chilled
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine – chilled
  • 1 cup orange juice

Several hours ahead of the time of your gathering – or the night before, dissolve the sugar in the red sangriarum. Slice the lemon, lime and orange into thin rounds and place in the rum to soak. After the fruit has been soaking in the rum for at least two hours, put into a large glass pitcher with the wine and orange juice. Chill in the refrigerator for several more hours. You can also put the orange juice into ice trays, freeze and add those to your Sangria at the time of serving.

When ready to serve, muddle or crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir. Adjust sweetness to taste.  If you want to cut down on the alcohol content in this recipe you can use less rum and/or add ginger ale to the mix.  If you’re adding ginger ale, do so at the last minute to keep the bubbles lively.

You can add other fruits of your choosing such as apples, pears, strawberries, nectarines, pineapple, cherries, berries – it’s your choice.   No need to use expensive red wine for this recipe, now is the time to try out that box wine that has been calling to you.

Your red wine sangrias and red wine cocktails will work well with your spicy barbeque meats, grilled veggies and all of your beef dishes.

wine partySangrias, Bellinis, Mimoas, Wine Cocktails; all of these are a fun way to add color and celebration to any summer time gathering.

I can’t wait to serve a icy cold White Peach Sangria to my guests.  What will you be serving?

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