During the sizzling summer months, nothing takes the edge off a hot day like a cool, refreshing white wine served in a chilled glass. Red wines are all but forgotten by many during this season, but that need not be the case. Red wine, consumed in moderation, is considered healthy for the heart. It contains a high amount of resveratrol, an ingredient that has been shown to reduce "bad" cholesterol and also to prevent blood clotting and plaque formation in arteries. Because red wine is fermented with the skin of the grape longer than white wine is, red wine contains more resveratrol. In addition to the added health benefits of red wine, some people just prefer the taste of reds to that of whites.
Whether you’re entertaining a large group or want to accommodate someone special, here are a few ways to let those reds sparkle and enjoy their day in the sun.
Sangria is a tasty drink that has many virtues. It’s easy to mix up a big batch for a party or just a small pitcher for an evening at home. It’s relatively simple to prepare and is an inexpensive drink. Best of all, there are many variations, so the chef can exercise her creativity. The basic ingredients for sangria are red wine and fruit. Many recipes also call for a hard liqueur such as rum, brandy, or other spirits, so now is a great time to dig out that bottle of fruit-flavored alcohol that’s been used once and has been sitting on the shelf since Christmas. Any type of red wine can be used, and it doesn’t have to be a pricey variety. Dry, sweet, fruity; experiment to see what flavor you like the best.
Many types of fruit work well in sangria, preferably fresh but frozen can also be used. Grab whatever is in season including oranges, strawberries, apples, peaches, lemons, limes, or cherries, chop them up and toss them into the wine mixture. Most recipes suggest soaking the fruit in the alcohol mix for at least two hours, or overnight if possible to infuse the flavors. Sugar can also be added, and if a bit of fizz is desired, squirt in a dash of ginger ale, seltzer water, club soda, or mineral water just before serving. For those who like their drinks sweet, flavored commercial soda can be added, though this will also pack on the calories.
With the numerous recipes available, this is a concoction that can be made many times throughout the summer with a different taste each time.
Wine spritzers used to be The Drink for women in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Though some people view a spritzer as an appalling way to ruin a good wine, this perky drink does have its advantages. For a picnic, family reunion, or other gatherings that will last for hours, having a diluted drink makes good sense. It’s better to continually sip a spritzer than straight wine because the alcohol content is lower. Spritzers are also a good lunchtime drink for those who enjoy a little relaxation in the afternoon but don’t want something that will put them to sleep. Some people have a sensitive stomach, and a spritzer is much gentler on their digestive system than straight red wine.
To make a basic spritzer, just mix well-chilled club soda, mineral water, or seltzer with a glass of red wine. For an extra dash of fun and nutrition add fruit such as cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries peaches, or grapes. Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge if desired. The ratio is up to the drinker. A standard recipe is two parts wine to one part mix but this can be modified for those wanting to cut back on calories or those who need to keep their alcohol consumption to a minimum.
Wine ice cubes
While some people have no problem drinking red wine on the rocks, for purist oenophiles, this is an adulteration of a fine spirit. A simple solution is to freeze the wine in an ice cube tray. This will help keep the wine cold and not dilute the flavor.
Try these cool ideas and enjoy all the heart-healthy benefits of red wine this summer season.
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