SAN FRANCISCO — You’ve carefully selected the wines for each course of your holiday dinner, from the roast turkey to the dessert spread. From California Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to Zinfandel, you’ve got all your wine bases covered. The only thing missing is a festive wine-based cocktail to kick off the celebration.
Craft cocktails are a huge trend for holiday gatherings and beyond, and both still and sparkling wines can be a part of that experience. Not only does wine provide a lighter alternative to spirits, it pairs exceptionally well with a variety of cocktail components. California wines make a particularly fitting match for the state’s bounty of local, sustainably grown produce and fresh herbs.
“Wine can create a lot of versatility in a cocktail,” says Christopher Longoria, beverage program director at Che Fico in San Francisco. “It can bring characteristics such as fresh and dried fruits, tannins, roundness and structure.”
To provide inspiration for signature wine-based cocktails, California Wines has released a new free e-book, “California Wine Cocktails for the Holidays.” Available to download here, it features recipes for deliciously creative seasonal drinks such as the California Gold Rush—a blend of California Chardonnay, fresh lemon juice and lemon-thyme honey—and the Cranberry Rosé, made with California dry rosé wine, cranberry juice and orange bitters.
Whether you’re looking to create a savory drink with complex, spicy notes, or a light cocktail brightened with winter citrus, there’s a California varietal wine or blend to complement just about any ingredient—not only during the holidays, but all year long.
California Gold Rush: An herbaceous blend of California Chardonnay, lemon juice and lemon-thyme honey
West Coast Warm Winter Wine: A fruit-forward spin on mulled wine, accented with pomegranate and fresh citrus
Cranberry Rosé: Dry California pink wine meets cranberry juice and orange bitters
Red Apple Sangria: California red wine and apple cider get a spicy twist with cinnamon and fresh fruit slices
Vineyard Mule: A refreshing take on the Moscow Mule, featuring California white wine
Raspberry Port Sparkler: California port-style wine and bubbles mingle with muddled raspberries
Red Wine Hot Chocolate: Luscious chocolate and full-bodied California red wine chase away winter chills
Need More Holiday Entertaining Ideas? For holiday dishes to pair with California wines and wine-based cocktails, pick up a copy of “Wine Country Table,” featuring recipes inspired by the state’s sustainably grown food and wines. The book is available at major bookstores and through Amazon.
Wine Institute is the public policy association of California wineries producing 80 percent of U.S. wine. As the nation's number one state for wine and food tourism with 3,900 wineries, California attracts 24 million visitors to its wine regions each year.