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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

It’s not summer without a tinto de verano


A tinto de verano in New York, June 23, 2023. The irresistible combination of red wine and citrusy soda has been a longtime favorite in Spain — and it’s perfect for at-home bars, too.

By Rebekah Peppler


If you’re convinced that red wine should be reserved for the colder, more sweater-worthy months, consider the tinto de verano.


A fizzy, ruby-hued combination of red wine and citrusy soda served over ice, it’s to summer in Spain what a chilled bottle of rosé is to l’été in Provence.


“It’s a fun, easy beach or pool drink,” said Sandra Cordero, the owner of Gasolina and the soon-to-open Bar Xuntos in Los Angeles. “I wouldn’t drink a tinto de verano below 80 degrees.”


To make it, start by choosing the right tinto or red wine. The Spanish traditionally opt for more robust and tannic table wines: Look to tempranillo, garnacha or monastrell grape varieties, or ask your neighborhood wine shop to recommend a bottle. The short ingredient list means each element strongly influences the drink, so Cordero suggests picking a bottle you’d have on its own.


Pour your chosen (and preferably chilled) tinto over ice, then cut the wine with a citrus-forward soda to brighten and add effervescence. In Spain, La Casera, a citrusy soda so pervasive that it is simply referred to as “gaseosa,” or “soda” in Spanish, is the soft drink of choice. But you can use another lemon-forward soda, such as 7Up or Sprite, cutting it with a splash of soda water to counter any sweetness.


These three ingredients — wine, soda, ice — are all you need for a proper tinto de verano. But, that said, there’s plenty of room to play.


Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice — or dare to make your own citrus simple syrup as in this recipe. Muddle lemon and lime peels with sugar and a pinch of salt, add fresh lemon juice, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar, and then set aside to steep. In about an hour, you have a sweet-tart syrup ready for your tinto de verano. Combine any extra with soda or tonic water for lemonade, add it to another cocktail recipe that calls for citrus and standard simple syrup such as a sherry margarita or Tuxedo Cobbler, or just keep it in the refrigerator for your next round of tintos de verano.


There’s even room to swap your tinto. Cordero suggests trying a dark rosé. (Call it a Rosado de Verano?) Should you prefer a drink that leans a bit rounder and more herbal, add sweet vermouth. Serve over ice in a wineglass, a small highball or a larger lowball — whatever you have on hand — or allow friends to pour their own according to their tastes.


However you choose to tinto, the result is a light, refreshing cocktail ideal for hot weather drinking.



Tinto de verano


A drink built and named for summer, Spain’s effervescent tinto de verano (summer red wine) matches the season’s easygoing nature. At its most traditional, the recipe sticks to just three ingredients: ice, red wine and citrus soda. (La Casera, from Spain, is most classic, but 7Up and Sprite also work.) This version includes an option for a bright lemon-lime syrup mixed with soda water to stand in for the classic’s soft drink, plus a pour of vermouth for rounder, herbal notes. But, should you prefer your tinto de verano adhere to tradition, feel free to add more red wine in place of the vermouth. While the below recipe will yield a balanced, light and fizzy tinto de verano, there’s no need to get overly caught up on perfect measurements, the drink readily adapts to personal preference — and eyeballing ounces.


Yield: 1 drink

Total time: 20 minutes, plus 1 1/2 hours for optional syrup



Ingredients:


For the lemon-lime syrup (optional):


1 lemon, peeled

1 lime, peeled

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of fine sea salt

3/4 cup/6 ounces fresh lemon juice (from about 2 1/2 large lemons)



For the drink:


Ice

2 ounces dry red wine

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth (optional)

4 ounces lemon-lime soda, such as La Casera, 7Up or Sprite (or use 3/4 ounce Lemon-Lime Simple Syrup, plus 2 to 4 ounces soda water)

Lemon wheel, for garnish



Preparation:


1. If making the lemon-lime syrup, place the citrus peels in a small saucepan, and add the sugar and salt. Use a muddler or the end of a rolling pin to break down the mixture, working the sugar mixture into the peels until they start to express their oils. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Heat over low, stirring frequently, just until the sugar dissolves. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep for 1 to 2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids. (You should have about 1 cup syrup. The syrup can be stored, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks.)


2. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine the wine, vermouth and syrup, if using. Cover and shake until cold, then strain into an ice-filled highball or wineglass. Top with soda (or soda water), and mix gently to combine. Garnish with the lemon wheel and serve.


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