The wine spritzer. Reliever of sweaty foreheads, perpetual choice of women in movie bar scenes, and object of wine-snob derision the world over.
Seriously, have you ever tried ordering a wine spritzer in front of someone who recently told you about their most recent esoteric wine find? If you haven’t, give it a try; after they pass out, they’ll probably wake up and make fun of you, but you can always leave first. We (sort of) get where the snobbery comes from: wine is a finished product, the product of patience and an object of studied perfection. Adding something to it—like an ice cube?—well, that’s just like looking God in the face and recommending Botox.
Except it’s really not. While we don’t recommend you take that $40 bottle off the shelf and “loosen it up” with a bit of seltzer, we think summer’s just too damn hot to endure without recourse to one of the most appropriate warm-weather drinks. The ideal wine spritzer is chilled, it’s effervescent, and it’s low ABV, meaning it won’t knock you out for the day if you need a little cool-down, psychological or otherwise, at 2 p.m.
Not that the wine spritzer should be devoid of “interest.” Just because you’re adding soda water, doesn’t mean you can’t start with something reasonably tasty, which is why our list is made up of bottles you probably wouldn’t see on the average wine-spritzer menu. Slightly more expensive (average around $20), but giving a lot more per glass, more flavor and aromatics for those spritely little bubbles to carry to your tongue. Again and again. And again. Because, damn, there aren’t shorts short enough to cool you off.
Dolcetto is a lighter, supple wine that is typically drunk early in its lifetime. Lots of fruit to play on the bubbles here, like ambling through a raspberry patch with a bag of dark cherries by your side. Generously aromatic, meaning the spritzer carbonation will do double duty of making your drinking a little giddier and delivering some fruit and spicy minerality to your palate. The classy spritzer.
We recommended some Albariño not long ago, but we’re more than happy to do it again, especially for spritzer purposes. A cool-climate star, Albariño brings lots of fruit and floral to the glass—think soft white peaches and orchard blossoms—with balancing, almost salty minerality and acidity.
Time to give Finger Lakes Riesling some love, right? Not to mention Riesling is a highly aromatic grape, making it an ideal star for the spritzer. Basicallly off dry (meaning it’s not totally devoid of sweetness), but very balanced, with bright citrus and nectary stone fruit notes with an integrated minerality. And, low alcohol, which goes with the whole spritzer vibe.
A richer wine than you might normally use for a spritzer, but still not treading too deeply into the forest of earthy/funky/tannic flavors. Instead, plenty of dark fruit again, although lighter strawberry notes poke out at the top. Some moderate acidity lends it a bit of brightness on the finish, which is kind of a perfect complement to bubbles—and a great palate cleanser, prepping you for sip No. two. Or three. Or four.
Speaking of Grenache, this rosé is made with 50% of the stuff, with 40% Cinsault and the rest Syrah. This is ideal for a lighter spritzer (and will calm all thirsting rosé beasts in your presence), with delicate little floral notes and some candied strawberry cut through with zingy acidity. Yeah, we said “zingy.” It’s rosé.
Italian rosé, or rosato, doesn’t get nearly enough action in our opinion—including spritzer action. Which is, we think, a term. This Italian rosato is made from Moscato (you recognize that one) and Brachetto grapes, yielding a lightly sweet wine with subtle rose garden florals and lush berry flavors leaned out by a bit of spice and racy acidity.
Not all Pinot Grigios are created equal (or equal to Pinot Gris, though sort of). But the Pinot Grigios of the Sudtirol/Alto Adige region generally won’t do you wrong. Instead of the typically lemony-acidic Pinot Grigio (which we’re more than happy to knock back on a carefree summer day) you’ll get some orchard fruit, especially pear flavor, and a hint of minerality that help draw out the long finish. Which is nice, since the bubbles are going to be insistently popping said finish in your mouth.