Tinto de Verano: The Perfect Spanish Summer Cocktail

July 26, 2021 by Crystal

Tinto de Verano: The Perfect Spanish Summer Cocktail

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We’re officially in the dog days of summer here in Texas. When the weather heats up, it’s fun to mix up a little something refreshing and cold to enjoy poolside, at the lake, or on the patio. Nothing brings back memories of Spain and beats the heat quite like a glass of ice-cold tinto de verano, which literally translates to red wine of summer. It’s essentially a Spanish wine spritzer and the summer drink of choice in Andalusia. Since it really only requires two ingredients, it’s cheap and easy to make. If you’re looking for a big batch cocktail for pool-time or weekends at the lake, tinto de verano is a delicious alternative to margaritas or summer shandies! It’s also perfect for mixing single cocktails. Tinto de verano is a fabulous cocktail to enjoy anytime during the warm summer months and is sure to be a new favorite.

What is Tinto de Verano?

This simple Spanish summer cocktail traditionally made with equal parts red wine and carbonated soda is said to have been invented sometime in the 1920s by a bar owner named Federico Vargas in Cordoba, Spain. It was originally called “un Vargas” after its creator. I don’t know the exact backstory of how it came to be known as tinto de verano. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Vargas made his own wine but couldn’t sell it to bar patrons because it was too strong. Not wanting to waste it, he mixed it with carbonated soda, and this delightful cocktail was born. Who knows if that’s a true story, but it’s a logical progression, and I love a good story, don’t you? I’ll get around to researching it one of these days, and I’ll be sure and update the blog. But I digress…

Let’s start with the tinto

Spaniards use the term vino tinto to refer to any type of red wine, so tinto de verano always starts with a bottle of red wine. Since it is usually mixed with a sweet, citrus-flavored carbonated soda, you doesn’t need to use expensive wine. Still, it should be a wine that you would enjoy drinking on its own. I like to call those ‘friendly’ wines.

And then add the verano

Verano is the Spanish word for summer. And nothing is more refreshing in the summertime than a fizzy, citrusy concoction garnished with fresh lemon or orange slices (I personally prefer orange slices). In Spain, it’s common to use Lemon Fanta or La Casera gaseosa. You can use Sprite, 7-Up, or any other citrus-flavored carbonated beverage. I like to keep mine simple, but you can also jazz it up with Sweet Vermouth or even rum for an extra kick.

Wait, isn’t tinto de verano the same as sangria?

Before I spent a semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain, I thought of Sangria as the quintessential Spanish drink. And while you can undoubtedly find Sangria at restaurants bars in Spain, tinto de verano is more popular among locals.

Sangria and tinto de verano are both red wine cocktails, but sangria typically requires more ingredients such as a variety of seasonal fruits, brandy, triple sec, and simple syrup. It also requires advanced preparation to allow the flavors to really meld together. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sangria. This recipe for red wine sangria by Bobby Flay is my absolute favorite! Seriously, it is so good. But tinto de verano is simpler, cheaper to make, and it’s also lighter and less potent. All good things when it comes to day drinking in warmer weather!

Ingredients for Tinto de Verano Spanish Summer Cocktail
Ingredients for Tinto de Verano Spanish Summer Cocktail

Tinto de Verano Ingredients

  1. Red Wine ~ For a more authentic tinto de verano, I personally love Spanish tempranillo or garnacha, but you could use any light to medium-bodied, fruity red wine. Again, you don’t need an expensive bottle, but you want to use a wine that can stand on its own.
  2. Carbonated Soda ~ Any citrusy carbonated soda like lemon Fanta, Sprite, or 7-Up will do. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve even seen grapefruit soda used in some recipes. To reduce the sweetness, you can cut your Sprite or 7-Up with a little soda water. The last time I made this, I cut Sprite with equal parts Lemon San Pellegrino because that’s what I had on hand, and I really enjoyed it. I find that Sprite alone is too sweet, and the San Pellegrino by itself, although calorie and sugar-free, is not quite sweet enough and almost a little flat. Not enough fizz. If you don’t mind the taste of stevia, you could also use lemon-lime twist Zevia.
  3. Lemon and/or Orange Slices (Optional but highly recommended) ~ You don’t have to add fresh fruit, but a garnish of lemon and/or orange slices really takes the presentation up a notch. I prefer to use orange slices. My favorite thing to do is eat the fruit at the end after it’s been soaking for a bit!
  4. Sweet Vermouth or Rum (Very Optional) ~ I usually leave this out, but you can start with 1/2 oz per glass and adjust to taste. Even if you make this as a pitcher, you can always just add to individual glasses for people who want the extra kick.

My Favorite Tinto de Verano Recipe

I usually make this one glass at a time, but it’s easy to make a bigger batch. You can follow the same directions as below and just use a pitcher or punch bowl. One 750 mL bottle of wine would equal 25.36 ounces of soda.

~ Fill a glass with ice. Be sure to leave some room at the top for orange slices.
~ Depending on the size of your glass, add 2-3 oz red wine to glass and then top with 2-3 oz soda.
~ Add orange slices to the glass
~ Stir gently

How easy is that?!

I find the 1:1 ratio to be perfect for me, but you can always adjust to your liking. My husband thinks my version is a little too sweet and prefers to cut it with a little soda water.

I hope you love tinto de verano as much as I do. If you get a chance to try it out, please drop me a line and let me know what you think. Oh, and be sure to check out our other favorite cocktails.


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