I’ll admit it: When it comes to desecrating a bottle of wine, I’ve got it in the bag. By ‘desecrating’ I’m talking about combining wine with another beverage, something which probably gives offence to sommeliers, but given the title of this post there likely aren’t too many of those around. What is it with so many wine drinkers and their unfun attitude toward their libation of choice, anyway? An anecdote: Once I announced, quite innocently, to a gaggle of self-styled wine experts that I prefer my Pinot Grigio straight from the box, in a pint glass, in response to which they glared at me – silent and aghast – as though a convicted kitten-torturer were in their midst. Whatever! The box is a more economical purchase compared to the bottle and keeps longer in the fridge, does it not? Shouldn’t I at least get credit for chilling my wine before drinking it? And who of my generation doesn’t have fond memories of their parents strangling the last droplets of Dry White from a crinkly foil sack for their pre-dinner drink? I can concede that the pint glass thing is hedging toward the socially unacceptable, but alas.
Anyway, back to the issue of desecration. The day after we arrived in the Okanagan my boyfriend thoughtfully presented me with a bottle of Pinot Noir from one of the local wineries (which shall remained unnamed lest a local vintner takes offense and declares fatwa). Checking to see that it was past noon (I’m a lady), I opened the bottle and poured a few ample glugs into my plastic tumbler. I even swirled it around a bit like I think you’re supposed to do, then took an eager sip. Well, blame my naïve palette – and I can see those wine experts or whoever they were casting looks of aspersion in my direction again – but the stuff tasted dangerously similar to red wine vinegar. The terms ‘acrid’ and ‘rat’s blood’ (as a now defunct Vancouver restaurant used to call their cheapo House Red) also came to mind. Not wanting to let the remainder of the bottle go unconsumed – it’s a bit of a personal motto that at the end of the day all wine is good wine – and taking inspiration from a friend who recently told me he likes to augment his red wine with a splash or two of Coke, I opened the mini-fridge (everything in the RV is mini) to see which ingredients I could use to perform a little alchemy. Spotting a can of Orangina (a slightly less synthetic-tasting version of Orange Crush) sitting on the shelf, I grabbed it along with a handful of ice cubes and returned to my lowly tumbler. In went the ice, followed by a long, fizzy pour of Orangina. The results? Well, a marked improvement, that’s for sure. A poor man’s sangria? Maybe, but it went down much smoother than the Pinot Noir in its original state. It certainly wasn’t gourmet by any stretch, but think I was on to something.
The recipe below came about not from the need to mask the less palatable notes of a bottle of wine but rather a craving for an icy, effervescent happy hour cocktail on a very hot day – and as I talked about here, holy crap is the Okanagan hot right now. Indeed, the White Zinfandel I use for this recipe is both cheaper and more drinkable than the one involved in the experiment described above. Such is often the way with wine, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience straying from the bottom shelf at the liquor store. The kitschy pink hue of the White Zinfandel make me think to throw in a few juicy slices of Okanagan white peach – so ample here this time of year along with cherries, plums and nectarines – and the end result was so impressive to look at I almost (not quite) didn’t want to drink it. So I say the wine cult could do well to to follow in the footsteps of its beer-drinking better half – which seems more open to the concept of beer-centric cocktails and even desserts – and loosen up a little. Dionysus would have expected as much! And after all, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.
Recipe: White Zinfandel Spritzer with Okanagan White Peaches
- White Zinfandel (I used Barefoot Wine)
- Carbonated juice, 7up, Sprite or sparkling water (I used President’s Choice Blue Menu Sparkling Fruit Juice)
- White peaches, sliced
- Ice cubes
In a tall tumbler, layer ice cubes and sliced white peaches, sliced side facing out. Fill tumbler half way with your carbonated beverage of choice. Fill tumbler the remainder of the way with your White Zinfandel of choice. Sit back and admire your creation, then drink! It’s happy hour at the trailer park…