Spritz It Up!

By Leslee D. Miller

Schorle, fröccs, pricer, spritzer. From Austrian, German, Hungarian to English, the word ‘spritzer’ across the globe means pretty much one thing: a refreshing, bubbly concoction that is sure to bring happiness. Although there is no real proof as to where the actual original ‘spritzer’ came from, there are a few sources that give some origin to Austria. Most likely the drink came about after the invention of sparkling water in the mid 1800s, as the new water fad found its way to the cocktail scene across eastern Europe. Soon thereafter, socialites were adding sparkling water to a glass of still wine as a way to add a little sparkle to their everyday white and red wines. Traditionally, the spritzer is said to be one part wine to one part sparkling soda water. But today, we see everything from two parts wine and one part soda to almost all wine to just a splash of soda. We have, I guess you could say, taken the liberty with our spritzers.

In general, I tend to use sparkling waters or soda waters as a way to lighten a glass of wine, hydrate and add freshness, especially if I’m enjoying wine during the day for lunch, a bruncheon or a daytime occasion like a bridal shower or an afternoon birthday event. I tend to think of spritzers as basically a mini-sangria. Instead of making a large batch, which you certainly may, I do like to make them on the spot as the ingredients often pop and refresh in a playful manner. So, I guess the question is, is there a right wine or a wrong wine for creating the perfect spritzer? No way. Think of it much like you would if you were building a sangria – find the base fruit flavors (IE: strawberries, mangoes, cherries, blackberries) of the bottle of wine you’re about to enjoy and add those same ingredients to your spritzer. Then, top your fruit/wine combo off with a desired amount of soda. Most importantly, don’t limit your spritzer to just white wine, there are a number of red wines that work just as well for this delicious sipper. For heartier, try Shiraz or Cabernet, for a lighter version, go with Pinot Noir or Grenache. Lastly, don’t forget to add something interesting to your spritzer to add texture (like herbs or homemade simple syrups). In the end, the spritzer is what you make of it, select wines that you love and I promise your own spritzer will be your favorite!

Here are a few of my own to share for inspiration:

Watermelon Basil Smash
Serves 8

4c cubed (2″ cubes) watermelon (refrigerated or frozen)
2c fresh basil (chiffonade cut)
1bt chilled Pinot Noir, Grenache or Zweigelt (Austria) Rosé
1 liter of chilled club soda
8 whole strawberries (garnish)

Fill each glass with: ½ c watermelon, ¼ c basil and 1c of wine. Top with desired amount of soda water. Garnish with one whole strawberry, sliced to fit the side of the glass.

Serves 8

4 peaches
½ c light brown sugar
1bt of chilled Moscato
1c light rum
1 liter of chilled club soda
8 small sprigs of lavender (garnish)

Half each of the peaches, remove their pits and grill each half at medium high heat (gas or charcoal grill) for approx. 5 minutes. Once all peaches are grilled, slice into small wedges, add to a mixing bowl and toss with ½ c brown sugar. Refrigerate for 1hr. Toss again before adding to spritzer. Ready to make your drink? Fill each glass with ½ c of peaches, 1c of Moscato, 1oz light rum and top with desired amt. of soda water. Garnish each with one small sprig of lavender tucked on the side of the glass.

The Perfect Storm
Serves 8

4c blackberries
1c mint simple syrup
1bt of chilled Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot or Carmenere (Chile)
1c bourbon
1 liter of chilled club soda
16-24 mint leaves (garnish)

Fill each glass with ½ c of blackberries, 1c of red wine, 2Tbsp mint simple syrup (can add more or less depending on level of sweetness), 1oz bourbon and top with desired amt. of soda water. Garnish each with 2-3 mint leaves.

How to make mint simple syrup: Combine 1c water, 1c fresh mint leaves, 1c sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, still until sugar dissolves. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and leave mint in contact with syrup for approx. 30-40min. Strain syrup from mint into mason jar and let cool. Simple syrup can be kept refrigerated for one month and be used for any number of drinks (ice tea, cocktails, desserts, etc.)

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