I have to admit, back in my table-waiting days, the first time somebody asked me for a red wine cut with coca-cola I had to raise my eyebrows a little. “You’ve got to try it,” she entreated, “it’s really refreshing.” Sure, I thought, right after I polish off my mom’s strawberry-flavored wine coolers.
Years later, while traveling through Spain and Italy, I was surprised to see an Italian-American friend cutting local wines with soda at lunch. I followed her lead and passed on ordering sangria (which she said is typically reserved for tourists), and instead refreshed my palate with Spanish favorites such as tinto de verano (red wine and gaseosa, or lightly-sweetened lemon lime soda) and kalimotxo (made of red wine and coca-cola).
Although these unusual combinations most likely originated as a way to sweeten slightly tart bodega wine, they are both perfect for hot summer days. Not only are these surprising concoctions easy and inexpensive to make, but the low alcohol content means that you can quench your thirst without getting too tipsy.