Say cheers to wine-based cocktails this summer

Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager at UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar, says the appearance of red and white wine in cocktails is on the rise.
Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager at UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar, says the appearance of red and white wine in cocktails is on the rise. ALLISON KUHL

Craft beer may be insanely popular these days, but wine’s appeal remains unshakable. And with cocktail culture thriving, creative wine-based drinks are on the rise. Ready to switch things up from farmhouse saison and double IPA? Make room for the Mendoza Julep and the Beaujolais Cobbler.

Check out the numbers that point to wine’s increased popularity: a recent Gallup poll found that 50 per cent of drinkers say they consume wine more often than beer, and 35 per cent drink more wine than any other alcoholic beverage. The biggest shift from beer to wine has been among 18- to 29-year-olds and women.

The glory of the grape doesn’t surprise Sabrine Dhaliwal, bar manager at UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar. She says not only are people enjoying learning about wine in general, they seem to be especially keen on trying more unusual bottles in particular.

“We have our Chardonnays and Pinot Grigios that are staples and that are beautiful and delicious,” Dhaliwal says, “but people are asking for really funky, unique wines, which is really cool,” she says, pointing to varieties like Pecorino (such as the 2014 Platinum Sogno Pecorino d’Abruzzo), Vermentino (Fattoria Di Rocca Delle Macie Campo Maccione, 2015), and Nebbiolo (try the Beni di Batasiolo Langhe, 2014). “We have so much information at our fingertips. Access to information is making people more adventurous.”

That openness to trying new things applies to cocktails too. While the Whiskey Sour is a classic example of a cocktail that calls for wine—in this case, a red-wine float—people may be seeing more fancy drinks featuring various wines on bar menus.

“I work with a lot of wine-based spirits—sherry, white port, port, vermouth—but is it time for red and white wine to appear more? Absolutely,” Dhaliwal says. “People are getting into that style of drink—low-proof cocktails with no hard spirits. People want to go for dinner and have that cocktail beforehand and have that cocktail after, but they don’t necessarily want to drink two Manhattans or two Old Fashioneds.”

Sabrine Dhaliwal’s Garden Dancer includes sweet green apple liquor and tart lemon juice, but the star is Sauvignon Blanc. ALLISON KUHL

Garden Dancer

Dhaliwal has just created a special wine cocktail; here’s her recipe to try at home:

    • 0.50 oz. Giffard Manzana Green Apple Liqueur

    • 0.50 oz. Stones Ginger Wine

    • 0.75 oz. Jasmine Green Tea Syrup

    • 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients (except wine) in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about seven to 10 seconds, strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, top with Kipu Sauvignon Blanc and garnish with an orange twist. Best enjoyed with a group of friends on a sunny patio.

Robyn Gray, head bartender at Prohibition in Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia, says that the most popular wines there are Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. He points to the latter as the ultimate wine for making standout cocktails.

“Prosecco really works well with cocktails because of the type of its bubbles,” he says, which don’t lose as much carbonation in a fancy drink as Champagne does. Made with dry sparkling wine, gin and simple syrup, the French 75, he says, “is one of the most delicious drinks there is.

“Plus, Prosecco cocktails are perfect for summertime and for sipping on the patio,” he says.

Robyn Gray

Robyn Gray, head bartender at Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s Prohibition, recommends the sparkling wine-based cocktail the French 75. 

Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz is another sparkling-wine based cocktail that Gray loves. Aperol is an Italian aperitif. “It’s so good; it’s bittersweet, refreshing,” he says. “It’s not going to weigh you down with heavy alcohol. It’s light and really fun, something you can have during the afternoon.”

Here’s how to make it:

Pour 1.5 ounces of Aperol into a glass with cubed ice. Fill with half Prosecco (try the Riondo Collezione) and half soda water. Garnish with an orange slice. “It’s so easy to make and so delicious,” Gray says. “That and the French 75 are absolute superstars in the cocktail world.”


Those who want to try their hand at mixology at home can turn to the friendly staff at Everything Wine for help coming up with winning combinations. They have all completed training with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the world’s leading wine education program.

“I cannot walk into that store without spending a ton of money and an hour,” Dhaliwal says. “There are so many really cool things there; I’ll go ‘Wow; I didn’t know this was in our market.’

“Our guests have become so much more knowledgeable and hungry for information, and they’re seeking out those really cool things in wine.” The more they learn, they become more intrigued, she says, adding that Everything Wine’s staff have the knowledge to help people discover new labels they’re going to love. “The people who work there really know their stuff.”

To help channel your inner bartender, visit Everything Wine at 998 Marine Dr. in North Vancouver, 112-15735 Croydon Dr. in Surrey; or 31-2401 Millstream Rd. in Langford on Vancouver Island. Feeling lazy? We deliver, too! See for more details.


This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Everything Wine and first published on Vancouver Sun.