Salt & Wind Travel

Salt & Wind Travel

More Than 15 Festive Wine Cocktails To Celebrate The Holidays

Best Wine Cocktails

What says “holidays” to you? For us, it’s friends, family, homemade gourmet food gifts, festive entertainment, and seasonal wine cocktails. 

As Californians, we’re all about cocktails with flavors of the Golden State. As in ones that celebrate the season’s produce — from pomegranates to grapes and lots and lots of citrus — and local wines.

Who Is The Top Producer Of Wine?

Since California is the top producer of wine in the United States, it’s only natural that those cocktails be made with wines ranging from a classic buttery Chardonnay and a fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon to a bubbly brut sparkling wine and a spiced Zinfandel.

The best holiday cocktails are easy to make, very festive, and can be served at various gatherings, be it a cocktail party, a winter brunch, or simply cozying up next to a fire with a good book. 

The Best Wine Cocktails 

In partnership with California Grown and California Wines, we’re sharing drink ideas for all those occasions so you have plenty of inspiration for how to toast the holiday season. 

From mulled wine to red wine hot chocolate and sangria to twist on the classic kir royale, here are 15 wine-based cocktail recipes:

pomegranate st germain cocktail recipe v

Pomegranate Ginger Sparkling Wine Cocktail Recipe

Nothing quite brings the party like some bubbles! This pomegranate and ginger twist on a classic Champagne cocktail is sweet and tart, thanks to the addition of ginger liqueur and fresh pomegranate arils.

Mix these up to order or make a large batch served over an ice block for an impromptu punch.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine to have lots of fizz and some freshness but not too much-added sweetness.

aida mollenkamp hugo cocktail 2 v 1

The Hugo White Sparkling Wine Cocktail Recipe

Yes, we love a classic Aperol Spritz, but a twist that we think is not nearly as popular as it should be is the white Spritz, also known as The Hugo.

This St Germain sparkling wine cocktail is a significant crowd-pleaser made with a touch of bubbles, elderflower liqueur, and lemon.

To make it even more seasonally appropriate, we recommend using Meyer lemons or mandarins instead of the lemon.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use a sparkling California Muscat or a demi-sec sparkling wine to bring a dash of sweetness to this spritzer.

salt and wind golden night cocktail recipe v

The Golden Night Pear Wine Cocktail Recipe

At first glance, the simplicity of this cocktail — a cardamom and pear simple syrup combined with sparkling wine — seems too easy to be interesting. But one sip will surely change your mind.

If you only make one of the sparkling wine cocktail recipes listed here, have it be this, the Golden Night, because it has a heady spice that feels so at home during the holiday season.

Oh, and did we mention it’s incredibly food-friendly?

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine to have lots of fizz and some freshness but not too much-added sweetness.

pomegranate apple cider ginger punch recipe v 1

Pomegranate Ginger Apple Cider Punch Recipe

This is an easy punch recipe with pomegranate liqueur, ginger juice, apple cider, and brut sparkling wine that’s not too sweet, not too boozy, and just suitable for the holidays.

While we have a few ginger wine-based cocktails on this list, this is our favorite for making into a punch. It’s a session cocktail that can be sipped throughout the night and only gets better as it sits.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine to have lots of fizz and some freshness but not too much added sweetness.

california kir royale cocktail

California Kir Royale Sparkling Wine Cocktail Recipe

Of the list of classic French wine cocktail recipes, the Classic Kir Royale is indeed the best known.

But, seeing as the Golden State grows almost 100% of the U.S. pomegranate crop, this California twist on the Kir Royale by Kate of ¡Hola! Jalapeno is made with pomegranates, brut sparkling wine, and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine, so you have lots of fizz, some freshness, but not too much added sweetness.

Photo Credit: ¡Hola! Jalapeno

raspberryportsparkler7 ccaliforniawineinstitute

Raspberry Port Sparkler Cocktail Recipe

Stirring a port-style wine into a cocktail may not be the top of your mind when it comes to wine cocktail ideas. But it should be because port wine cocktails have a balance of sweetness and depth that is fabulous.

Here a California port-style wine combines with a brut sparkling wine and fresh raspberries for a looker of a sipper.

To get access to this recipe and a full cookbook of wine-based holiday cocktails, head here.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine, so you have lots of fizz, some freshness, but not too much-added sweetness.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

150330 lavender bellini cocktail recipe v 1

The Lavender Bellini Cocktail Recipe

If your favorite way to entertain is with an all-out brunch and some bubbly drinks, then you’ll want to make this cocktail.

Here Rachel Hollis updates the classic Bellini cocktail with a lavender simple syrup that adds a floral note without being too far astray from the classic.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use a sparkling California Muscat or a demi-sec sparkling wine to bring a little sweetness to this classic cocktail.

sage grapefruit cocktail

Sparkling Sage Grapefruit Cocktail Recipe

Another go-to cocktail during winter brunches is this sweet, herbal grapefruit cocktail.

Like a greyhound meets a sage sparkling wine cocktail, this Sparkling Sage Grapefruit Cocktail can be made by the glass or the pitcher to accommodate however many guests you have!

Best California Wine To Pour: Use brut sparkling wine, so you have lots of fizz, some freshness, but not too much added sweetness.

apple basil spritzer

Apple Basil Spritzer Cocktail Recipe

One look at the name of this cocktail, and it may seem too tame for holiday entertaining.

But the spiced apple-basil honey syrup brings a ton of flavor yet is lightened up thanks to the addition of sparkling wine. It works as well at a brunch as it would at a New Years’ party.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use a sparkling California Muscat or a demi-sec sparkling wine to bring a little sweetness to this spritzer.

Photo Credit: This Mess Is Ours

californiagoldrush7 ccaliforniawineinstitute

Gold Rush Cocktail Recipe

Yes, this white wine cocktail also has herbed honey syrup, but that’s because it’s a subtle (and easy!) way to bring out the flavors in the wine you use.

The herbal sweet honey thyme syrup in this Gold Rush cocktail can go one of two ways depending on which white wine you use to make it: either contrast it using a buttery oaked Chardonnay or underline the flavors by using it a fresher, mineral-y white.

Best California Wine To Pour: To bring some buttery and vanilla notes, opt for an oaked Chardonnay. Or, if you want the cocktail to be a bit fresher, use an unoaked, minerally Chardonnay.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

cranberryrose6 ccaliforniawineinstitute scaled

Cranberry Rosé Cocktail Recipe

If you’re partial to the combination of cranberry and orange, then this is the holiday cocktail for you. The orange bitters bring a touch of spiced citrus, while the cranberry adds a sweet-tart note.

And the whole lot is made a gorgeous shade of Christmas red thanks to the addition of California rosé wine.

To get access to this recipe and an entire cookbook of wine-based holiday cocktails, head here.

Best California Wine To Pour: Opt for a rosé wine unoaked for a drier drink or a fruit-forward, sweeter rose for a more sweet cocktail.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

winter sangria 6

Blood Orange Ginger White California Sangria Recipe

Sangria is one of those recipes that only seems to come out during the hot weather months, but that’s a shame because it’s just as fitting in the cold weather months, which is why we’re sharing a handful of sangria recipes.

This one is made with dry white wine, blood orange juice, orange liqueur, and berries for a festive cocktail that is a perfect addition to your next brunch.

Best California Wine To Pour: Use a dry white wine like an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc, which will enhance the fruit flavors of the sangria.

redapplesangria4 ccaliforniawineinstitute scaled

Red Apple Sangria Cocktail Recipe

If you’re looking for a drink that’s as gorgeous on display as it is easy to make, this is it. The apple cider comes with orange juice, maple syrup, and red wine for a festive take on classic red wine sangria.

To get access to this recipe and a complete cookbook of wine-based holiday cocktails, head here.

Best California Wine To Pour: Opt for light to medium-body red wine like a Pinot Noir or a Grenache.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

fall sangria recipe

Fall Sangria Wine Cocktail Recipe

The last of the sangrias on our list is this one by Kate of ¡Hola! Jalapeño that’s inspired by the California wine harvest.

Translation? It’s loaded with harvest fruit like figs, grapes, and apples.

Of all the red wine cocktails here, this is the lightest, thanks to the addition of grapefruit soda just before serving.

Best California Wine To Pour: A medium body wine with low tannins, like a Merlot, is a great pick!

Photo Credit: ¡Hola! Jalapeno

westcoastwarmwinterwine5 ccaliforniawineinstitute

West Coast Warm Winter Cocktail Recipe

But if we’re going to talk uber-classic holiday sippers, then we must talk mulled wine. If you haven’t made mulled wine before, we insist you start with this recipe. It’s as festive as it gets and fills the whole house with classic holiday smells.

The only thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to let it boil; otherwise, you’ll cook off all the alcohol!

To get access to this recipe and a complete cookbook of wine-based holiday cocktails, head here.

Best California Wine To Pour: A Cabernet Sauvignon with its concentrated dark red fruit flavors — blackberry and black currant — and hints of mocha will bring another dimension to this mulled wine.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

redwinehotchocolate8californiawineinstitute

Red Wine Hot Chocolate Cocktail Recipe

Another hot red wine cocktail that’s a must-make during the holidays is this spiked hot chocolate.

Made in a slow cooker with chocolate chips, brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut milk, and red wine, this is super simple to put together and great when you need a drink that doubles as dessert!

Best California Wine To Pour: For a more mellow wine note, opt for an approachable Merlot. Or, bring a bold spiced note — ahem, black pepper, and cloves — use a Zinfandel.

Photo Credit: CaliforniaWine Institute

pinterest wine cocktails

Pin It For Later!

Want to remember all these recipes for later? Save this pin to your Pinterest board, so you have them all ready to go!

california grown fall cheeseboard tips v6 1

More California Food And Wine

Now you have lots of ideas of what to sip at your next holiday party. By the way, these would all be a perfect fit to serve along with a California-inspired cheese board or these Oysters With Pomegranate Mignonette.

Oh, and if you want to read even more about California wine, check out this article on what is sustainable wine and why you should care!


Photo Credit: Opening Photo By California Wine Institute

Sponsored Post: This article was brought to you by Discover California Wines. Thanks for supporting these sponsors who help us keep Salt & Wind Travel up and running!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to our privacy policy.

Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Email
About The Author

TRAVEL SERVICES

We'll help you taste Italy Mexico California Hawaii Mexico France Spain the world

We specialize in food-focused experiences in the most interesting culinary regions of the world.

We host trips to Italy and Mexico to the regions of Lombardy, Mexico City, and Oaxaca.

Our services are tailored to meet your needs and make sure you make the most of your trip.