charm school for cheap wines

It’s finally summertime, the season that seems to beg for cold wine and warm conversation. Here on the east coast there are also fireflies, which my west-coast brain still finds dazzling and somehow magical, even after 7 years.

Whereas autumn and winter are time for nesting, summer is best when shared with friends. If you’re entertaining and also a wine lover, you can go from a happy host to a broke one before you know it. So here are a few ways to dress up budget wines so you can afford to have a social life and keep the AC running.

You’ll note that there are no red wine recipes in here, because bad red wine is unforgivably terrible, whereas mediocre white can be managed with the right proportions of other stuff. 🙂

Driest Prosecco you can find + Elderflower, Lavender, or Rose soda

Recommended: Belvoir Pressé ($3-5)

Your favorite bargain bubbles + Italian Blood Orange soda

Recommended: Trader Joe’s Blood Orange Soda ($3) Cava, US-made methode Champenoise, Prosecco all work. I’d skip the Lambrusco though. Unless you’re drinking the higher end stuff, most of it is too sweet.


Vinho Verde + 1/3 cup rum, brandy, amaretto, cointreau + sliced fruit + ginger ale

Recommended: Broadbent Vinho Verde ($9-11), Orlana Vinho Verde and Rosé ($8-10)

Vinho Verde, White, or Rosé + pomegranate arils, raspberries, blackberries

Nothing much to say here. It’s classic, easy, and what I serve nearly all summer long.

White wine + cider+ club soda+ sliced apples/pears  

Recommended: Austin Eastciders ($12) has an unbelievable range of delicious and not too sweet cider. You could also add some mead if you’re really feeling zany: Charm City Meadworks ($15-20) is…potent.  Angry Orchard works in a (budget friendly) pinch. Stella Cidre does too, if you like the green jolly rancher flavor profile.



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