The Rebirth of the Wine Spritzer
Are wine spritzers in the midst of a revolution? There's room to say that the market is certainly growing and with wine industry veterans jumping on the bandwagon, some of these refreshing spritzers are worth checking out.
One of the first and enduring spritzers on the market, Hoxie was no fly-by-night project: “It was 2001, and I was cooking at a restaurant called Village on 9th Street,” recalls founder Josh Rosenstein, of his early line-cook days in New York City. There between 5th and 6th Avenue, Rosenstein and a colleague took any discarded fruit they could find—from strawberry tops to leftover citrus—and macerated it in cooking wine.
Soon after, Rosenstein moved to Los Angeles, working for the venerable Suzanne Goin at AOC and learning about local California produce. He then incorporated his farmers’ market finds with his wine-mixing, and served them to friends in his home. This was the impetus for Hoxie. In the spring of 2015, the first Hoxie bottles—now sold in cans—were born. The name is a compound of two words: hock, a British slang word used for a Rhine wine and foxy, describing the flavors of the Catawba grape (a cross between vitis labrusca and vitis vinifera), which is the major base of this spritzer. Norton grapes are also used, as well as fruits, herbs and spices for the two main flavors: Lemon Ginger Rosé and Linden Blossom Blanc.
Master Sommelier candidate and Momofuku Beverage Director, Jordan Salcito, knows a thing or two about wine—she owns and operates a wine label, and is the creator of Ramona Fizz. When asked why she jumped into the spritzer market, Salcito replied: “I felt there was a void in the market for a fun, high-quality product made with organic ingredients that didn't take itself too seriously. I also think, regardless of where people are on their wine journey, everyone deserves to drink well.” After doing a lot of research, Salcito chose to work with "organically grown Zibibbo grapes from Sicily,” infused with pink grapefruit. A vitis vinifera variety also known as Muscat of Alexandria in other parts of the world, Zibibbo is "the most delicious," she says.
POE Wines’ Samantha Sheehan is also part of this growing market with her recently released Vin D’Orange Vermouth, a take on her chef-friend Michael Emanuel’s drink that he greeted guests with during his 12-year tenure at Chez Panisse. Labeled as a vermouth, peels of Seville oranges—as well as some pith, fruit and other botanicals—are extracted in eau de vie (fruit brandy) and wine. Add a dash of soda water or drink on its own over a large ice cube—both are equally refreshing.
And if you're not into buying already-made wine spritzers, there's no better time than now to concoct your own homemade version. Melissa Vogt, Managing Editor of The Wine Advocate, says, "they're easy to make if you follow these simple guidelines!"
- Choose a quality wine that you would enjoy drinking on its own. Remember, it's going into the spritzer, so don't choose something that is cheap or doesn't taste good!
- Instead of using club soda, opt for a sparkling wine—it will add that effervescence a spritzer needs without diluting the finished product.
- Pick a few fruits, botanicals and/or herbs to spice up your spritzer. You can also add in bitters or liqueurs for an extra kick!
- Getting the proportions right is the tricky part, but play around with each ingredient and the amounts, and you're sure to find a winning combination. Enjoy!