3 Reasons Wine Coolers Are Cool Again

published Jun 21, 2016
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(Image credit: Coco Morante)

The internet isn’t sure exactly why wine coolers fell from grace. Perhaps White Zinfandel is to blame, or maybe their slide into oblivion was the result of a perfect storm of food trends of the 1990s. Regardless, the beverage favorite of the 1980s is staging a comeback, popping up on cocktail menus, cooking shows, and (let’s be honest) our hearts. Here are three reasons we’re betting this is the summer of the wine cooler.

A Note on Terminology

The words cooler, spritzer, and even spritz are often used interchangeably, but they mean slightly different things. Combine wine with sweetened soda and you’ve got a wine cooler; top it with club soda instead and it’s a wine spritzer; and if the wine is sparkling and you add some bitters to the wine-and-club-soda mix, lo and behold, you’ve got a spritz.

We’ve already witnessed the rise of that classic Italian aperitif, the Aperol spritz, and it’s high time for its siblings to return to favor as well. From sweet, candy-colored versions to fresh, light ones, and even the classic Spanish calimocho, a blend of red wine and Coke, here’s why coolers (and spritzers) are cool again.

3 Reasons Wine Coolers Are Cool Again

1. Wine coolers are easy to make.

If there’s one thing we’re looking for in a summer sipper, it’s ease. And with just two ingredients and no set recipes or ratios to follow, coolers and spritzers have to be some of the simplest drinks to make. Just combine any inexpensive wine with soda or seltzer and you’re done! Forget the jiggers, shakers, or really any tools other than a corkscrew (if you opt for a screw-top wine, you don’t even need that).

Of course you can get as fancy as you like with coolers and spritzers — let Pinterest, your pantry, and the farmers market be your muse — but the whole idea is that you don’t have to.

2. Wine coolers are easy to drink.

Wine coolers and spritzers are the ideal poolside beverage. Their low alcohol content (roughly four to six percent) mean you can imbibe without getting too buzzed. And their refreshing fizz and slightly sweet flavor make them go down easy in the summer heat.

3. Wine snobbery is so last century.

But wine coolers and spritzers are back for more than just their über simple construction and light and refreshing qualities. They’re part of the “drink what you like” culture that’s taking root across the country. In addition to craft brews and small-batch gin, forgotten and “unfashionable” drinks are back with a vengeance, and cooler drinkers can once again sing the praises of these beverages loud and proud.

Curious to give wine coolers a second chance? Check out my completely subjective ranking of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, or mix up one of your own!