Wine Cocktails for Summer Chillin’

Wine Cocktails for Summer Chillin’

The world of cocktails is rich with history and creativity, offering a diverse array of drinks that reflect cultural influences and innovative spirit. Among these are the Bellini, Pineau Spritz, Kalimotxo, and Vermouth Cassis. Each has unique stories and flavors that have contributed to their enduring popularity.

The Bellini, a delightful blend of peach puree and Prosecco, was conceived at Harry's Bar in Venice and named after a Renaissance painter, Giovanni Bellini. The Pineau Spritz combines Pineau des Charentes, a French fortified wine, with sparkling water for a refreshing twist. The Kalimotxo, a Basque invention, mixes red wine with cola for a simple yet surprising refreshment. Vermouth Cassis, a sophisticated combination of vermouth and blackcurrant liqueur, showcases the versatility of fortified wines. These cocktails not only highlight the ingenuity of their creators but also offer a taste of the regions and histories from which they originated, making them beloved choices for both casual gatherings and elegant occasions.



The exact timeframe of the creation of the peach and sparkling wine cocktail known as the Bellini is somewhat unclear, but it is believed to be between 1934 and 1948. Harry’s Bar, founded in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani, is where the Bellini originated. Cipriani named the cocktail after the 15th-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini, inspired by the artist’s use of pink hues that seemed to glow on the canvas, according to Cipriani's son, Arrigo Cipriani.

To create this iconic brunch drink, Cipriani pureed small white peaches, which were abundant throughout Italy between June and September. These peaches were a favorite of Cipriani, and he wanted to capture their appealing fragrance in a drink. He then added Prosecco to the puree. Initially, the Bellini could only be made during the short peach season, and it became so popular that the bar employed staff solely to pit and squeeze the peaches by hand.

Harry’s Bar became a favorite spot for many famous authors, including Sinclair Lewis, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway, while writing Across the River and Into the Trees, frequently visited the bar and favored the Bellini. The bar is mentioned multiple times in the novel, reflecting Hemingway's fondness for the location. In recognition of its cultural significance, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared Harry’s Bar a national landmark in 2001.

As Harry’s Bar approaches its 100th anniversary, it remains largely unchanged from its early days. Despite its small and inconspicuous exterior, the bar continues to attract patrons with its iconic Bellini and other exquisite cocktails and Italian wines. The Bellini, with its perfect balance of bubbly sweetness and a hint of tartness, has become a global sensation.

Although Cipriani could only serve the Bellini during the summer months in the early 1900s, today this cocktail can be enjoyed year-round and is especially popular in the spring. As a delightful alternative to the mimosa, Bellinis are an excellent brunch choice, thanks to their fruit juice and light sparkling wine flavor. The refreshing sips will wake you up and pair nicely with fruit-forward breakfast food.



4 large peaches (1 1/2 pounds frozen peaches)

4 1/2 ounces prosecco

1 ounce peach purée

1/2 ounce raspberry syrup (optional)



Make peach purée

Blanch for 15 seconds, fresh peaches to remove the skins and pits. If using frozen peaches, bring to a thaw. Blend peaches in a food processor until smooth. Add sugar to taste.

Chill the flutes

Put purée on bottom,

Pour prosecco over

Drizzle raspberry syrup to color.


Pineau Spritz

The Pineau Spritz is a relatively modern cocktail that combines Pineau des Charentes with sparkling water or tonic and sometimes other ingredients to create a refreshing, aromatic beverage. Pineau des Charentes is a French fortified wine produced in the Charente region, primarily associated with the Cognac region. Legend has it that in the 16th century, a winemaker mistakenly poured grape must (unfermented grape juice) into a barrel containing Cognac, thinking the barrel was empty. The Cognac raised the alcohol level of the must, halting fermentation and resulting in a sweet, aromatic wine. This “mistake” became the basis for Pineau des Charentes.

The spritz part of the cocktail has roots in the Veneto region of Italy and traditionally combines prosecco, a bitter liqueur like Aperol, and soda water. The spritz became popular in the 20th century and has seen numerous variations since.

The modern twist of the Pineau Spritz came from an experimental mixologist looking to create new, refreshing cocktails with sweet, rich flavors and a bit of effervescence while maintaining the sophistication of Pineau des Charentes. Combining French and Italian influences in this way would have been unconventional 100 years ago, but today, this spritz format symbolizes a growing trend of cross-cultural influences, appealing to a wider audience with modern tastes.



Ice cubes

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Pineau des Charentes

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Honey Syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 (1 1/2-inch) lemon peel strips, divided

Sparkling wine



Fill a cocktail shaker with ice; add Pineau des Charentes, lemon juice, syrup, and bitters. Hold 1 of the lemon peel strips by a long edge, skin facing down in shaker. Pinch peel strip to express citrus oils; drop into shaker. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with sparkling wine, and garnish with remaining lemon peel strip.



The Kalimotxo (also spelled Calimocho) is a popular Spanish wine cocktail made from equal parts red wine and cola. In the States, people tend to scoff at the idea of mixing anything with wine (though we at Delish clearly do not—check out our red wine mules and Champagne margaritas). However, in the Basque region of Spain, they aren't only drinking sangria—in fact, mixing wine with soft drinks is somewhat of an obsession all over Spain.

This simple yet refreshing drink has an interesting and somewhat humorous origin story from the Basque Country of Spain in the 1970s. More particularly, its creation stems from the Old Port of Algorta (Getxo) in 1972. During a local festival, a group of young people discovered that the red wine they had bought for the event had gone bad. To mask the unpleasant taste, they mixed it with cola, and to their surprise, it became a hit. The name "Kalimotxo" is believed to be derived from the Basque words "Kali" (a colloquial term for “cheap” or “bad”) and "Motxo" (a term meaning “mixture” or “blend”). Some stories suggest the name was inspired by the nicknames of two friends, Kalimero and Motxo, who popularized the drink. It’s a symbol of creativity and resourcefulness, demonstrating how a potentially ruined situation (bad wine) can be turned into something enjoyable with a bit of ingenuity and a touch of humor.

Over the years, the Kalimotxo has grown in popularity beyond the Basque Country, becoming a staple drink across Spain. It is especially favored among young people and is commonly enjoyed at festivals, parties, and casual gatherings. As the wine cocktail traveled to other places, variations began to develop. Some people add a splash of lemon juice, a shot of rum, or even a sprinkle of sugar to enhance the flavor. The drink is usually served over ice, making it particularly refreshing in hot weather.



1 part red wine (often a less expensive or lower quality wine is used)

1 part cola


Optional: a slice of lemon or lime for garnish



Fill a glass with ice.

Pour in equal parts of red wine and cola.

Stir gently

Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime if desired.


Vermouth Cassis

Vermouth might be the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, depending on how broadly we define it. Early forms of fermented wine were crude and likely unpalatable, but infusing them with local herbs and spices not only improved the taste, but also added vitamins, minerals, and sugars, making them medicinal. In his book “Vermouth,” Adam Ford describes three early examples of these proto-vermouths from the Stone Age. The earliest, dating from 6200-6500 BCE in China, included wine, honey mead, and rice malt. Similar concoctions were found in modern-day Iran and Egypt, around 5400-5000 BCE and 3150 BCE, respectively. While these ancient beverages are fascinating, distinguishing between mulled, aromatized, and spiced wines in ancient history is challenging. It’s more accurate to consider these Stone Age concoctions part of the history of all wines, including vermouth. However, for our purposes—making cocktails and understanding their ingredients—vermouth serves as a great proxy for what ancient alcohol might have looked and tasted like.

The key ingredient that likely gave vermouth its name is wormwood, or “wermut,” in German. Wormwood was central to the first vermouths made in Turin cafes during the 1700s. These drinks, more sophisticated than the hippocras that inspired them, benefited from a significant drop in spice prices. When Antonio Benedetto Carpano first started serving vermouth, it reportedly contained fifty ingredients. According to Ford, the influx of spices from the New World caused spice prices to plummet, making them affordable for experimentation. This period, and the mixtures it inspired, likely define vermouth more than any single ingredient. The true magic of vermouth, much like cocktails, lies in its versatility. Vermouth can be red, white, rose, and can range from dry (usually produced in Southwest France) to sweet (usually produced in Piedmonte, Italy).

Vermouth is not just an ingredient in martinis and negronis. Mixologists, in the early 2000s, have given vermouth a lift in returning it to the American market as an ingredient in new cocktails. The Vermouth Cassis is a simple and light drink, perfect for summer days



2-3 oz dry vermouth

¾ ounce crème de cassis

3 ounces club soda



In a Collins glass with a few ice cubes, pour the dry vermouth and crème de cassis.

Stir, then fill the glass with cub soda, and stir again.


Summer is coming, kids are soon to get out of school. Prepare to keep cool!


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