Imagine yourself sitting at a restaurant table on a Spanish plaza. Surrounded by historic buildings on a mild Mediterranean summer evening. What’s the first drink popping to your mind that would suit this pleasant situation? Sangría, right? What else! For most foreigners, Sangría is probably as Spanish as it gets. On par with Paella and Flamenco, many people would surely consider the wine drink a cornerstone of Spanish culture. Yet, there is a beverage that is even more popular with Spaniards but is much less known anywhere else in the world: Tinto de Verano.
Despite having travelled to Spain a lot, I had never come across Tinto de Verano before. Only a few years ago, I had first heard about it. We were staying with a lovely couple at an Airbnb in the center of Madrid. We happily took in all the great suggestions they had for us on what to do and eat in Madrid. After the girl had mentioned it, I suddenly saw the wine cocktail all over the place.
That night, we went from one bar to the next, drinking one glass after another. Oh it is just so easy to drink and got us right into vacation mode with its summery flavor. Just the next morning was a bit challenging. Being from Germany, I never really got the concept of siesta. But after a multitude of Tintos that first night, I really needed that afternoon nap. Of course, this didn’t hold me back from having more Tinto de Verano the next day. And since then, it is basically my go-to drink in summer. We pretty much prepare it for every possible occasion.
So, What Is Tinto De Verano?
The name of the drink literally translates to “red wine of summer” – from vino tinto = red wine. It is a fruity mix of red wine and gaseosa (carbonated lemonade) which is primarily consumed during the hot summer months all over Spain. The wine blend is highly refreshing and can be more easily tolerated in the Spanish heat than undiluted red wine. Hence, Tinto de Verano is a staple at pool parties or beach bars. The fizzy summer drink is somewhat similar to its Spanish cousin, the Sangría, but contains fewer ingredients and is more simple to mix.
There are two common versions of soda used for the drink: “La Casera”, a popular clear lemon soda brand from Spain or the light-yellow Fanta Lemon. While the one with La Casera, or a similar lemonade like Sprite or 7UP, is rather clear with a more crisp taste, the Fanta version has a more smooth and fruity flavour.
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A genius named Federico Vargas is the one to “blame” for all the summertime deliciousness. In order to offer refreshment to his guests who were hiding from the harsh sun at his bar El Brillante in the Spanish town of Cordoba, Vargas simply mixed red wine and ice-cold lemonade. As the hip crowd of the time, artists and bohemians, were totally into the drink, its popularity rapidly spread across all of Spain. Back then, at the beginning of the 20th century, the refreshing beverage still went by the name of “un Vargas” after its inventor. Though, with its triumphal procession, it got more and more known as Tinto de Verano. After all, this best describes what the drink is all about.
Tinto De Verano vs. Sangría
As mentioned before, there is an undeniable similarity between the two drinks when it comes to ingredients. Well, at least as far as wine and citrus fruit flavors go. Other than that, the perception of the drinks within Spain is rather different.
As seemingly popular as Sangría might be for Spaniards, locals actually consider it a “tourist” drink. Instead, their go-to drink in the warm summer months is certainly Tinto de Verano. The latter with its two simple elements is a lot easier to make than its touristy cousin which requires numerous spirits, spices and cut-up fruits.
While visitors from abroad often fall victim to savvy bar owners serving up the world-famous Sangría at horrendous prices, locals sip away on refreshing glasses of the more affordable summer wine. The further you get away from the beaten tourist track, you will realize that Tinto de Verano becomes the more common beverage to be found at every neighborhood bar.
Where To Get Your Dose Of The Delicious Potion
In Spain, Tinto de Verano can be found in almost every bar or restaurant. Even if you don’t find the drink on the menu, simply ask for a glass. We have actually never heard a “No” so far. Although most places mix the summer wine right before serving, there is a chance that bartenders sometimes simply pour from a big bottle of a ready-made mix
While those bottled blends like the ones produced by Don Simon or lemonade brand La Casera are not bad as such, you will definitely have to expect them to be a lot more sugary and artificial. If you have a particularly sweet tooth, these might actually suit your taste. On top, they can be very practical to take out as you can find them in most supermarkets
However, since we aren’t the biggest fans of artificial sweeteners, we would always recommend making the drink from scratch if possible. And after all, you don’t even need to go to Spain to enjoy this delicious alcoholic treat. Wherever you live, Tinto de Verano will bring you that Spanish summer feeling right into your home. Sit down on your balcony, patio or on a picnic blanket at the park, close your eyes and take a sip. You will immediately be in holiday mode. Simply the best pastime you can think of on a hot summer day.
How To Make Tinto De Verano At Home
Making this Spanish summertime staple at home couldn’t be easier. On top, the few ingredients are widely available and you might even have them at home most of the time. Perfect for a spontaneous get-together with friends or when you feel like taking a little sip on a sunny weekend day.
The wine is what gives the drink its distinct flavor. Whether you go for an expensive bottle or resort to a cheap tetra-pak from the supermarket, the choice is yours. Since you will mix it with the lemonade anyway, we don’t think it is necessary to take the most high quality wine. What is more important, is its flavor. Choosing the best wine for Tinto de Verano simply depends on how you like the drink to taste. Since the lemonade is already quite sweet, we usually prefer a dry wine to balance it out and give the beverage its special freshness. The combination of the two fuses into a blend that simply screams “summer”. But as we said before, this is completely up to you and your taste. Play around with different wines or vary the proportions until you have found the combination that suits you best.
Below you will find our super simple Tinto De Verano recipe. And if you want to give it a special touch, add a splash of Vermouth and embellish the glass with fresh fruits for that Insta-ready look.
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