Kitchn Love Letters

Why I Add Grape Soda to Red Wine All Summer

published Aug 7, 2023
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Someone holding up grape soda and wine cocktail
Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

When I was a kid, grape soda always seemed like the epitome of cool. Why have clear or brown when you could have purple? It could have something to do with those sick-day Dimetapp cough syrup doses while watching endless episodes of The Price Is Right, or it being the best flavor of all of the Blow Pops, but my love of grape stuck. 

Each week at my summer camp, there was a competition for whoever hit the most bullseyes in archery. The reward was a can of soda of your choice — and amidst the few colas and the lemon-limes, stood one can of grape soda. Every week, that can of grape soda was enough motivation to make it mine. 

As an adult, I forgot about grape soda, opting more for kombucha and sparkling water. That is, until I moved to a new neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. My local Chinese takeout spot offered a free can of soda with any order. There it was: Welch’s grape soda. Nostalgic, fizzy, and alluringly purple? It was an easy choice. 

Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

What’s So Great About Welch’s Sparkling Grape Soda?

First of all, the juicy, bubbly flavor is great, which is not surprising — Welch’s is primarily a Concord grape juice company that has been in operation in Concord, Massachusetts since the late 1800s. It also happens to be where I went to high school. So not only is Welch’s a nostalgic brand, but I also love that the taste is noticeably bigger and juicier than a lot of the other grape soda options. While you can buy larger-sized bottles of soda, a little goes a long way and a few cans usually suffice. It’s also the best way to make sure that each batch of drinks is fizzy and light for the best taste possible. 

Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

What’s the Best Way to Drink Welch’s Sparkling Grape Soda?

Sangria is one of those summer cocktails that I really want to like, but ends up tasting like, well, watered-down fruit punch. Another great summer cocktail made with red wine is from the Spanish Basque region and is called Kalimotxo (pronounced kal-ee-mot-choe). This cocktail is the brighter, bubblier cousin to sangria and is made up of equal parts cola and red wine, poured over ice and garnished with a lemon wheel. The best part? Inexpensive red wine is a requirement. 

Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

Now, I received a bottle of not-great red wine as a hostess gift and was looking for a way to use it up. There in the fridge was that can of grape soda. Suddenly, my favorite new summer cocktail was born. My version has equal parts red wine and grape soda, but feel free to adjust your proportions to taste. 

Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

I fill a glass with ice, start with the red wine first to the halfway point, top with grape soda and give the mixture a little stir with a spoon. Classic Kalimitxo is made using big, tannic reds from the Rioja region of Spain so if you happen to use a lighter red wine, it may need a bit less soda. Taste with less and you can always add a splash more. 

Credit: Alissa Fitzgerald

Due to the added grape flavor, the grape soda version is a bit juicier, but is still light with a burst of fizz reminiscent of Italian lambrusco. In any case, it is infinitely sippable, served in your favorite tumbler over ice and is super easy to batch. Just keep those half-and-half proportions and remember that the ice will melt faster on a hot summer day. Garnish the rim of your glass with a lemon wheel for a citrus kick and get ready. Your new favorite two-ingredient summer cocktail is ready to be sipped. 

Buy: Welch’s Sparkling Grape Soda, $1.50 for 20 ounces at Instacart

What’s your favorite summer sip? Tell us about it in the comments below.