Europe has long been a favorite destination for wine lovers. From France to Hungary, and pretty much everywhere in between, wine is rarely in short supply. But a simple glass of wine is not all you’ll find across the continent. The world’s oldest winery dates back to 4100 B.C.E. in Armenia, which means that Europe has had many centuries to not only perfect the art of winemaking but also find a dozen other ways to enjoy it.
Whether you’re planning a trip or just want to bring a bring a bit of European flair to your at-home cocktail hour, we’ve rounded up nine common wine cocktails from Europe to try.
Spanish sangria is one of the better-known wine-based drinks in the world. When water was unsafe to drink during the Middle Ages, Spaniards mixed red wine with brandy and fresh fruit for a safer (and more flavorful) option. Today the drink is also made with white wine and cava, Spanish sparkling wine, and can be found across the country.
Also known as a blanc-cassis, the Kir got its name from Canon Felix Kir, the mayor of Dijon in France’s Burgundy region from 1945 until his death in 1968. Kir often had parties where he served white wine and decided to start adding crème de cassis, a black currant liqueur, to each glass of wine. The combination was popular among party guests and was eventually dubbed the Kir.
The drink’s popularity spread among France and is now a favorite in the United States as well. To make it at home, simply put 1/2 ounce of crème de cassis in a wine glass and top it off with 5-6 ounces of dry white wine. For celebratory occasions, try a Kir Royale—made with champagne instead of white wine.
3. Mulled wine
When winter arrives in Europe, you can find people across the continent warming red wine and mixing it with citrus fruit, cinnamon, clove, and allspice to make mulled wine. Stop by any outdoor winter market and join the locals in sipping from mugs filled with their appropriately named versions of mulled wine: Glühwein in Germany, glögg in Norway and Denmark, vin chaud in France, vinho quente in Portugal, and svařené víno in the Czech Republic.
This Italian cocktail started off as an accident. As the story goes, a busy bartender at Bar Basson in Milan was making a Negroni, but mistakenly poured prosecco instead of gin into a glass with Campari and sweet vermouth. Rather than tossing the concoction, it was dubbed the Negroni Sbagliato, which translates to “wrong” Negroni. The name may suggest otherwise, but this cocktail is perfect for sipping on a warm afternoon in Italy.
Based on a recipe from the James Beard Foundation
Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail)
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 3 ounces prosecco
- Orange half-wheel for garnish
Buy Now: Campari, $27, wine.com; Carpano Antica Red Vermouth, $40, wine.com
As you would for a Negroni, combine all ingredients in a glass with ice. Mix, then serve over ice with garnish.
The infamous red wine and Coca-Cola drink, known as Kalimotxo in Spain, is said to have been born out of a desire to mask the taste of cheap wine you wouldn’t want to drink on its own. Served over ice, the cocktail mostly tastes like having Coke with a winelike aftertaste—and if you get a particularly fruity red wine, it sometimes resembles cherry Coke.
6. White Port and Tonic
This Portuguese aperitif doesn’t have an official name but it’s so simple that it doesn’t really need one. White port is less sweet than ruby and tawny ports, with a slight citrus and honey note similar to Lillet. When poured over ice and mixed with tonic, it’s light enough to spark your appetite for a meal of feijoada, quiejo, and bacalhau.
Easily make one at home, or perhaps on the balcony of a hotel in Portugal’s Douro Valley, by combining 1 1/2 ounces of white port with 3 ounces of tonic. However, white port can be difficult to find outside of Portugal, which makes this a cocktail worth traveling for.
7. Tinto de Verano
It seems like Spain is always looking for ways to spice up its red wine consumption, and tinto de verano is the perfect answer to a summer wine cocktail. Translating to “red wine of summer,” tinto de verano is half red wine, half gaseosa (lemon-lime soda) poured over ice. It’s light, refreshing, and easy to drink on a hot day in Spain.
Made from white wine and soda water, fröccs is said to be the “original wine spritzer,” invented at a Hungarian dinner party in 1842. In fact, fröccs literally translates to “spritzer” from Hungarian.
But perhaps it’s no surprise the now-popular combination started in Hungary. The country makes many crisp, fruit-forward whites, such as olaszrizling, and rosés ideal for fröccs.
In Hungary, there are roughly 20 different proportions you can order. Other than occasionally using rosé, the only difference among versions of the drink is the ratio of soda water to wine—always served chilled, never over ice. At home, experiment with the ratios and if you ever find yourself at an outdoor café in Budapest on a warm day, consider ordering one (or two) glasses of this quintessential summer drink.
You’re probably familiar with the Bellini, an Italian, prosecco-based cocktail that’s popular on brunch menus across the United States. The Bellini is said to have been invented at the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice by a well-known bartender in the mid-20th century. To make one like they do at Harry’s, simply combine one part peach puree and two parts prosecco.
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This story was originally published in April 2017, and was updated on January 28, 2021, to include current information.