Wine punch tactics

One of the great little tricks in wine appreciation is the building of a wine punch. With the holidays approaching we have a wonderful variety of wine punches available for all occasions. Let me give you my two best;

Cold punch

For warm weather; Here's a punch that I have used and designed many years ago and it is a huge hit for large parties when it is just a little warm out there. OK, here we go:

This punch will serve about 10 folks, more or less for a three hour function.

Use a large punch bowl which will carry about seven quarts of liquid. You might also cut the recipe in half if you wish and keep half of the liquid cold in the fridge until you need to add to the punch bowl as the night continues.

Start with a four liter bottle of dry white wine. You must use a dry white wine or this punch will get very sweet when things warm up on the punch line or when the ice diminishes in the punch bowl. Look for at least 11 percent alcohol and the wine will be drier. With the white wine add one quart (more or less) of grapefruit juice. This dries the punch out a bit and cleans up the taste of the punch with a good shot of acid. The next ingredient to use is a bottle of good ginger ale. There are junky ginger ales with more sugar and less fizz than others but try to find a boutique ginger, this makes all of the difference in the world. Add the ginger ale just before serving. Toss in a teaspoon of all spice and also a handful of bottled or fresh cherries. Float in the bowl two cut lemons and a cut lime in small wedges.

Try to use a block of ice in the bowl, it will not fall apart and dilute the punch as would cubes. Some folks freeze mandarin slices in orange juice and add as soon as the guests arrive.

This looks fun and tastes great. For those wanting a sweeter punch add pineapple juice instead of grapefruit juice to the punch. This is a more tropical punch and works well. For a little more "kick" add light rum. Be careful as the rum integrates with the punch and it may limber the crowd up more than you might wish. I never use spirits in punches, but they are very traditional during the holiday season. For an extra treat you might float pineapple slices at the very end as well. This looks pretty and tastes nice in a cold punch.

Hot punches

Using a crock pot is a wonderful way to go when doing a hot punch. The trick to hot punches is allowing for a few hours to let all of the ingredients fuse with the red wine.

Start with four liters of red wine, dry if possible. Again, look for over 11 percent alcohol when purchasing for a punch. Put the wine in a crock pot until about 3/4 of the pot is full. Add two cut up red apples. Do not use green apples or the punch will "bite" when finished. Remember to toss the seeds before putting into the punch. Add two tablespoons of allspice, four sticks of cinnamon and three cloves. It is important to let this punch simmer for at least three hours; do not boil! The trick is not to strain when putting in punch cups. It is OK if things look sloppy, keep all of the goodies in the juice. You might want to add a sliced lemon into the works as well for increased acidity.

For the spirits crowd, add dark rum to taste but be easy, a few ounces adds taste and warmth. Myers rum is the best for hot punches because the taste remains throughout the heat exchange and can be quite tasty, indeed. There are hot punch lovers who will add brandy instead of rum for a little taste difference but the choice is yours. Be judicious.

Well, there you have them. Cut down the proportions as you need for the guest list and have fun!

See you next week!

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