Much like brick phones, Tab and shoulder pads, there’s something that’s positively 80s about a wine spritzer. Remember the Bartles & Jaymes commercials featuring a couple of fogies dreaming up their wine cooler biz on a porch? While the idea seemed innocent enough, the product’s base was a murky mix of malt liquor and apple wine, a cheap but chancy combo that left a generation with a decade’s worth of nasty hangovers.
But now the wine spritzer—a bright and bubbly pairing of wine and sparkling water—is primed to make a major comeback. This time, it’s canned and ready to go. And unlike the neon-hued bottles of wine coolers you may remember, this new breed is made with real wine, and much of it good quality.
Josh Rosenstein, founder of L.A.-based Hoxie Spritzer, has had a longtime love affair with the effervescent wine cocktail. During his days as a cook in New York, he would collect everything from strawberry tops to herbs to add brightness to his wine and soda water.
Hoxie’s current lineup is based on Norton and Catawba, two grapes grown in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, and clocking in at a sessionable, day-drinking-friendly 5 percent ABV. The rosé spritz is delicately flavored with lemon, ginger and a bit of aromatic rose, while the white is infused with hints of lemon and linden blossom.
Over on the East Coast, Jordan Salcito, wine director of the Momofuku group, is also getting in on the spritz game with Ramona, a canned concoction of grapefruit juice and wine that’s made from organic Zibibbo grapes from Sicily. Sweetened with a touch of cane sugar, Ramona drinks like a dream, works wonders as a mixer and, with its pop-y pink-and-orange packaging, is easy on the eyes.
Working-class Cleveland isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking about emerging sparkling wine markets, but that’s home base for the founders of ManCan. Its Fizz, a juicy blend of Sonoma-grown unoaked Chardonnay and floral Viognier, is packaged in a striking graphic can.
Larger production makers aren’t sleeping on the spritz game either, although their recipes are decidedly sweeter. Both flipflop and Barefoot have lines of canned wine cocktails meant for beachside sipping. While these mass-marketed spritzers might not have the same dedication to sustainable sourcing, there’s something about the appeal of those little cans of rosy berry and citrus spritzers on a hot summer day.
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