Contrary to popular belief, the wine spritzer was not invented for the sole purpose of being slurped down by extras on the show Dallas, the guests at your grandmother’s weekly mahjong game and ladies who lunch everywhere. In fact, the spritzer is in vogue once again, currently making a comeback on hipster rooftops, garden parties across the nation and even Shark Tank, where a new product, Bon Affair, was recently funded. And there’s good reason, when done well, the wine spritzer is one of the most perfect libations for a hot summer’s day of outdoor sipping.
So where did this light, refreshing mix of soda water and wine come from in the first place? Not where you might think – admit it, you thought it was invented on a front porch in Alabama by a genteel Southern lady.
There are actually several stories that all point to the origin of the spritzer. One traces the drink all the way back to 1842 and the country of Hungary where, as legend has it, Hungarian author András Fáy invited a group of friends to visit his new wine cellar, including the scientist Ányos Jedlik, who brought with him a bottle of soda water. Since the newly invented soda water was all the rage in that day, Ányos decided to mix it with the wine that was being poured, and upon drinking his new creation, decided to call the drink a spritzer. However, Ányos’s companions didn’t like the Austrian-German word he had chosen for the new drink, they were Hungarians after all, so they decided to call it fröccs instead, which, to this day, is the Hungarian name for a spritzer.
The trouble Andras and his friends had with the name spritzer, though, would indicate that the above is probably not the most likely way the drink was invented, but it’s a good tale nonetheless, a tale which we’ll tack up to a bit of regional rivalry. The more likely origination of the drink, however, is in Austria, where the spritzer was born in the nineteenth century as a way to create bubbly wine. Traditionally, the spritzer is made with cold wine and cold soda water, served in a wine glass with no ice, but now, as is common with many traditional drinks, several variations can be found.
One such variation is the Aperol Spritz, a drink many of us know thanks to Mario Batali. The Aperol Spritz is a mix of 3 ounces of Aperol, 2 ounces of Prosecco and a splash of soda water. Though it’s not a true spritzer, because it uses sparkling wine and another booze instead of simply soda water and flat wine, many believe the drink came about during the time when Venice was under the occupation of the Austrian empire. The Venetians most likely noted that their current rulers drank spritzers and decided they could improve upon it, using their own Italian form of sparkling wine, Prosecco, for the bubbles instead.
No matter how you drink a spritzer, whether traditionally over ice or as an Aperol Spritz, it’s a delicious way to cool off during the summer. And now you know where it comes from.
Here’s the Basic Recipe:
¼ Part Chilled Sparkling Water
¾ Part Chilled White Wine
Slice of Lemon or Lime