Food & Wine

Xiamen Summer: Wine on ice is nice

Updated: 14 Jul 2007
Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share


Back in the days of the Roman Empire, the recipe for quenching thirst was a mug of watered-down wine. Water wasn't safe to drink without the cleansing properties of alcohol. Pittsburgh's water supply is perfectly safe, but when the thermometer rises, I like water in my wine, too -- frozen water.


Ice not only makes the wine more refreshing, but also increases the volume of liquid, giving me more sips for the same quantity of alcohol. And did you know that alcohol actually reduces body temperature? So as we head into our warmest months, I suggest you go in for some cooling summer sipping. Icy wine punches embellished with fruits make the ideal light and breezy beverage.


Probably the easiest and most famous wine cooler is the spritzer. Start with a light, dry, chilled white wine. Fill a tall glass with ice, pour club soda to the halfway point and finish with the white wine. The final touch is a squeeze of lime. I like to drop the squeezed lime section into the glass and to add a slice of fresh ginger root for an exotic touch. Another version of a white wine cooler can be made by replacing the soda water with cranberry, pomegranate or pineapple juice.


Sangria, the Spanish wine punch, was introduced into the United States at the Spanish Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair. It became such a summertime favorite in America that today, I would venture to guess that we probably drink more sangria than the Spaniards do. And I'd bet that we have more recipes for it! Although the traditional drink is made from red wine, white or sparkling wines can be substituted. Some recipes add brandy, triple sec, rum or gin. Sangria works well with all summer fruits, especially peaches, pears, apples, cherries, strawberries and grapes. It always has a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange juice as well. In our house, what goes into the sangria pitcher depends entirely on what is in our fruit basket, and that changes with each batch. One of the advantages of sangria and other punch-type coolers is that you can prepare large quantities if you are entertaining a group.


I especially like peaches in white sangria and often add a splash of peach liqueur and garnish with fresh mint leaves. It is fun to vary the basic recipe to come up with an individual house blend. Some recipes add a pinch of cinnamon. I've even tasted sangria with serrano chiles added. Let your taste buds run wild. Invent a new version of this summer classic.


Originally sangria was made with a fruity, undistinguished grenache wine from the Priorat region of Spain. Today's Priorat wines are far too fine to be adulterated with fruit juices, water and ice. My house sangria is made with inexpensive wine. I also buy inexpensive liqueurs and brandy to use when making punch. DeKuyper also makes peach, sour apple and other fruit-flavored liqueurs.


When I lived in Italy, the favorite warm weather cooler was a tall glass with 2 ounces red vermouth mixed with tonic water and a squeeze of lime and lots of ice cubes.


Very simple to make, a pretty color and super refreshing whether consumed in a Tuscan piazza or reclining in your garden hammock.




Another pleasant fruit and wine combination.

  • 6 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sliced orange and lemon for garnish

Mix all liquid ingredients in pitcher. Pour over ice and garnish with citrus slices.




  • 1 bottle of red or white wine, chilled
  • 6 ounces orange juice, chilled
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • 2 ounces brandy
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Diced apple, peach (or any summer fruit)
  • Sliced orange and lemon
  • 12 ounces club soda or lemon/lime soda (7 Up or Sprite), chilled

Soak fruit in liquors for up to one day. Just before serving, combine all ingredients in a pitcher and pour into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Garnish with orange and lemon slices.



While Pennsylvania strawberries are in season you might like to try this fruity concoction.


  • 1 pint of sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 6-ounce can undiluted frozen lemonade
  • 1 liter chilled club soda
  • Mint for garnish

Macerate the berries with sugar and wine for 1 to 8 hours. Add lemonade concentrate and chilled soda water. Serve over ice; garnish with fresh mint.



Perhaps the ultimate in wine mixology is "Winetails" created by Alex Ott for Ecco Domani brand Italian wines. All of these cocktails are made individually in a cocktail shaker. Each combines wine with several other ingredients chosen to enhance the wine's natural flavors. Mr. Ott's Winetails can be found on many drinks menus next to the more familiar "tini" drinks.

The entire collection of Alex Ott Winetails is available at




  • 5 seedless red grapes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce lychee juice (may substitute pineapple juice)
  • 2 1/2 ounces pinot grigio
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Skewer of lychee fruit or grapes for garnish

Muddle grapes with sugar. Add lychee or pineapple juice and wine, then a splash of lemon juice.

Pour with ice into a shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into glass and garnish with a skewer of lychee or grapes.




  • Slice of watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 2 1/2 ounces pinot grigio
  • Thin slice of watermelon for garnish

Muddle watermelon with sugar; add pineapple juice and wine.

Pour into shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Serve in highball glass and garnish with a thin slice of watermelon.




  • 1 peeled kiwi fruit
  • 2 tablespoons of mango chutney (or 2 ounces mango juice)
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet basil
  • 2 ounces of pinot grigio
  • Kiwi slice for garnish

Muddle kiwi. Add mango chutney (or mango juice), basil and wine into a shaker and shake vigorously.

Pour into a highball glass and garnish with a kiwi slice.




  • Half of a lime
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 ounces red wine
  • Lime spiral for garnish


Muddle lime with sugar until all the juice is extracted. Add wine. Pour with ice into shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into lowball glass and garnish with lime spiral.


SOURCE: Elizabeth Downer can be reached at


Editorial Message

This site contains materials from other clearly stated media sources for the purpose of discussion stimulation and content enrichment among our members only. does not necessarily endorse their views or the accuracy of their content. For copyright infringement issues please contact

Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share
Comments Area ( Total Comments: 0 )

You are now in Wine Bars