White wine spritzer / Photo by Caitlin Bensel
Ironically, the peaceful, breezy White Wine Spritzer likely originated during nineteenth century wartime, when beer-loving Austro-Hungarian soldiers based in the northeast of Italy diluted the region’s wine with a “spritz” of still water (a term derived from the German spritzen, meaning “to spray,”), according to Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, writing in their 2016 book Spritz.
Yet, when soda siphons were developed in the early 1800s dispensing seltzer, that’s where the easy-drinking wine spritzer – and its Italian cousin, the Spritz – took off! Soon after, Italians started adding their native wine-based aperitifs and bitter liqueurs to bubbly seltzer.
The White Wine Spritzer became an iconic drink in America, too.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Americans developed a newfound interest in wine, and better-quality white wines became more broadly available from California and elsewhere. It wasn’t long before baby boomers reared on soft drinks began adding fizzy water to their Sauvignon Blancs or Chardonnays. The White Wine Spritzer would go on to become a symbol of ‘70s and ‘80s suburban culture. (There’s a throughline here to the wine coolers of the ‘80s and modern-day hard seltzers, but we’ll leave that RTD anthropology for another day).
Since then, the Spritzer has endured. While the drinks low-alcohol nature is part of its appeal, there’s room to add small amounts of liqueurs (like elderflower liqueur or a bitter like Aperol), or spirits (say, a half-ounce of gin or blanco tequila), depending on your taste, veering the drink closer to Aperol Spritz territory. (See more Spritz and Spritzer ideas here.)
To make this refreshing and adaptable cocktail, start with whichever white wine you prefer, and lighten it with a sparkling component, from club soda or seltzer to a mineral water like Topo Chico.
(*Try to keep all ingredients as cold as possible, or plan to add ice to keep the drink chilled.)
Variations might include swapping wine for a dry or blanc vermouth, or a white wine-based aperitif, such as Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano, or Mattei Cap Corse.
Switch the lime wheel for a half-moon of orange or grapefruit.
Combine wine and soda water in a wine glass.
Wine and soda poured in glass / Photo by Caitlin Bensel
Add ice if desired. Garnish with lime wheel.
White wine spritzer with lime garnish / Photo by Caitlin Bensel