It’s okay to put ice cubes in your wine. Really. We’re calling it here at Quartzy. “If, like me, you enjoy extremely chilled wine and the satisfying clink of cubes on glass as you drink, why on earth shouldn’t you indulge in that pleasure?” asks my colleague Rosie Spinks, and I agree—no one wants a lukewarm mouthful of rosé or vinho verde when it’s hot outside. For my summer drinking though, I’ll take a proper spritzer over a glass of wine with ice cubes every time.
Spritzers are incredibly easy and versatile, and they’re the best answer for day drinking in warmer months. Their hydrating qualities stave off hangovers, and they are lower in calories than your typical cocktail or glass of wine, if that’s your thing. They require zero special ingredients, unless white wine or rosé, lemon, and seltzer are strangers in your home, and you can dress them up with a few bar staples so they feel #extra fancy.
If, as Rosie points out, you’re concerned about seeming “very un-French,” with your iced wine, rest assured that spritzers are solidly Italian-ish. For a complete guide to the spritzer lifestyle that includes everything from simple wine and seltzer drinks to Italian apertivos that require a few more special ingredients, I highly recommend Spritz by Talia Baiocchio and Leslie Pariseau.
For a simple, low-alcohol summer drink here’s my basic formula:
Get a glass. Fill that glass with ice and don’t skimp, you want a lot.
Fill about one-third of the way up with any unoaked white wine or rosé.
Drop in a lemon slice.
Fill the rest of the way up with plain, lemon, or grapefruit seltzer.
Sometimes I add a few drops of bitters. Sometimes I don’t.
That is all.
Wine choice: Does the idea of distinguishing between oaky and not oaky white wine make you nervous? Don’t despair. Get vinho verde, pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc and don’t spend a lot on them. Or just ask your friendly wine store employee. You can even say, I need a white or a rosé for a spritzer, what do you suggest? Wine industry folks respect the spritz.
Glass choice: Any glass works, that’s why the recipe is in proportions, not specific measurements. I favor a Ball jar because, well, I lived in Brooklyn for a long time. A pint glass is also great. On very hot days I like to make these in a tall insulated coffee mug that has been well scrubbed to remove all lingering coffee flavors. It reminds me of a riverside dive bar in Porto, Portugal that my husband and I went to on our honeymoon, where the playlist was exclusively curated from an extensive shelf of 90s rock CDs behind the bar, and the vinho verde was served in giant plastic cups over pebble ice.
Extras: Don’t be afraid to add bright, lively flavors to the mix. Add a tablespoon of your favorite amaro, liqueur, or syrup here, then more to taste. Elderflower syrup, cordial, or liqueur, like St. Germain, would be super delicious. A splash of Campari or Aperol would work, too. I am not a super fan of Cointreau and other orange liqueurs, but if you are, experiment away. Something like Creme de Cassis, the blackcurrent liqueur would also be nice. A note of warning though, all these sweet, boozy additions will increase your hangover factor (and calories), so just take that into consideration. A dash of flavored bitters might be your best friend here, if you need a little something more.
Recipes: I get it, not everyone wants to eyeball a cocktail. My version also is less boozy than many you’ll see, because it’s specifically formulated for day drinking and for long, hot hangouts, like barbecues that start in the afternoon and stretch into the summer evening. Should you want a more structured spritzer experience, this one is super elegant, this is an excellent elderflower version, this simple grapefruit version could work with any citrus, kombucha makes this recipe very extra, and I am going to try this strawberry rosé spritzer with raspberries as soon as they are locally available.