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Wine cocktails fit for a festive toast

Wine cocktails fit for a festive toast

I’m always looking for unique ideas when it comes to entertaining and July Fourth is one of my favorite holidays for getting together with family and friends. Of course, anyone coming to any of my soirees will find wine on the menu, but this year I thought refreshing and patriotic wine cocktails would make a fun addition to the festivities.

The wine cocktail is not a new concept, as the classic Mimosa — a mixture of Champagne and orange juice — has been a brunch staple for decades.

But because of the celebratory mood of the holiday my guests will be offered a cool, zesty wine cocktail in choices of red, white and blue.

Here are a few tips:

  • To make serving easier, have drinks mixed, chilled and ready to serve when guests arrive.
  • Remember, when making a wine cocktail the wine will be mixed with other ingredients, so you will be modifying the wine’s distinctive flavors. With that in mind, I suggest using good quality but inexpensive wines.
  • And for the final touch, staying with the Independence Day theme, use patriotic cocktail sticks such as flags, stars or simply red, white or blue cocktail stirrers to hold the garnishes.


  • Blackberry and Cabernet Caipirinha: In a pitcher muddle 12 (of 24) blackberries with 4 ounces simple syrup. Add 12 ounces cachaca (Brazilian sugar cane spirit), 4 ounces cabernet sauvignon, 8 ounces orange juice and 2 ounces lime juice. Mix well. Refrigerate 1 hour. Stir well and strain into six ice-filled white-wine glasses. Garnish each glass with 2 blackberries, an orange wheel and lime wheel.


  • 2014 Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $12 retail)


  • White Wine Mojito: Tear 30 fresh mint leaves into small pieces, muddle in the bottom of a large pitcher. Add 1 (750-mL) bottle dry white wine, 10 ounces sparkling lemonade and juice of l lime, stirring gently. Pour into highball glasses that have been prepared with 2 to 3 mint leaves on the bottom and filled halfway with ice. Garnish with a lime twist.


  • 2014 Handcraft Pinot Grigio, California (about $9 retail)


  • Pacific Blue Sangria: In a large pitcher, combine 1 (750-mL) bottle dry white wine, 4 ounces blue curacao, 4 ounces fresh lemon juice, 4 ounces simple syrup, 2 oranges cut into wheels, 8 ounces pineapple chunks and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve over ice and top with lemon-lime soda and garnish with an orange wheel or pineapple wedge.


  • 2014 Belle Ambiance Chardonnay, California (about $9 retail)

Like liberty, wine in U.S. a struggle

With Independence Day just around the corner, it seems the perfect time to reflect on America’s journey to becoming a wine producing country. In the 16th century, the first settlers found an abundance of native vines growing on the East Coast. The first challenge for winemakers in Virginia and the Carolina colonies was not finding an indigenous grape that would thrive, but finding one that could satisfy European palates.

In 1619, the first European vines were imported to Virginia and planted in North American soils. The plantings expanded along much of the East Coast but were mostly unsuccessful: The strange climate, diseases and pests took harsh tolls.

The plantings of these vines continued to fail year after year until hybrid vines were developed. The “vignoble” of Cincinnati, the “muscadine” of the South and the “concord” were extensively planted to produce table grapes, jelly and wine.

Around 1779, Franciscan missionaries realized the terroir of California could support European vines. If you fast forward 200 years through vine disease, Prohibition, the World Wars and instability of the market, it brings us today to a country ranked as the fourth largest producer of wine in the world behind Italy, France and Spain.

Today wine is produced in nearly every state, with California leading the pack, making July Fourth an ideal time to enjoy and celebrate the wines of America.


  • 2010 Cellar No. 8 Pinot Noir, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2010 Cline Cellars Cashmere, California (about $15 retail)
  • 2010 Beringer Founders Estate Shiraz, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2009 Bell Big Guy Red, California (about $26 retail)
  • 2009 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay, California (about $32 retail)
  • 2009 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $40 retail)