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Summertime, sad sacks and spritzers

So I'm at the Hazel Miller concert at City Park last Sunday evening and it's hot and about as crowded as a summertime, people-filled park can be. Those who've read a Wine Wench column or two know that I have an aversion to white wine, unless it's paired alongside something extraordinary to eat via a world-class sommelier.

I know it's not fair about the white wine, but we've all got our prejudices.

Anyway, I'm on a date and I'm supposed to bring the drinks and I don't particularly like this date - plan to give him the "nice to know you, but you're not so nice so bye-bye" talk before the evening's out - and (like him), I don't want to spend anything valuable on our wee bit o' time together, like money or excellent wine from my stash.

BINGO! The perfect solution! I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. The cheapest, least interesting bottle in the afore-mentioned wine rack is one he'd previously brought over and we'd never touched: a $5 white of dubious origins.

I proceeded to do what any girl does on tender evenings with troublesome business ahead: I packed loads of ice in the cooler, icy cans of Diet 7-up and that bottle of cheap whatever it was. As Hazel hit her high note in a Denise LaSalle bluesy piece, me and not-so-dream date sipped what was probably the most refreshing cocktail in the park: A sparkling wine spritzer.

Wine "coolers" or spritzers or sangrias all have one thing in common: wine. The rest is an infusion of that which makes the wine even nicer than the vintner originally envisioned. There's often fruit (I put lime slices in mine), something sparkly and effervescent, like club soda or sparkling water, and ice. If you really want to glam it up, pour it into a lovely, clear goblet and add colorful fruits like oranges and cherries.

But really, don't extend yourself because extending oneself goes against the very reason we sip spritzers in the first place (to relax, be decadent, enjoy the adult part of the "adult beverage"). The reason there's no pressing need to "do it all up," besides the fact that pouring sparkling water into wine = excellent cocktail, is that you can buy any manner of wine coolers/sangrias/spritzers at almost any liquor store - and they're good. Popular wine cooler brands include: Seagrams, Bartles & Jaymes and Smirnoff Ice. These companies produce wine coolers with a wide array of flavors from watermelon to mojito to black cherry.

But I like to do myself a favor and mix my own summertime spritzer, and I really like to do that with someone else's wine and Diet 7-Up that costs about $1.29 a 6-pack at any King Sooper. And then I like to go to a free concert with food some some other guy's brought.

All of this adds up to some serious summertime advice: Word to the mens: Don't be cheap, don't be guarded, don't be elusive - unless you want your woman to invent a cocktail.

And womenfolk? Keep your summertime sass alive and well and learn to make a spritzer ‘cause you never know when you might just want to mix up a really good one for yourself and a dream date.

One Winning Wine Tasting

Every Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Marczyk Fine Wine hosts a complimentary and casual wine tasting with various wine, beer and spirits free. Marczyk Fine Wine is part of the Marczyk Fine Foods located at Clarkson and 17th Streets in Denver. They're also known to fire up their grills on Friday afternoons and anything from cheeseburgers to ribs can end up being part of the fare and festivities.

For further information, visit www.marczykfinefoods.com.

Weird Wine Trivia

These little known wine facts come directly from Napa Valley in California.
• Cost of acre of new vineyard in Napa Valley-$120,000 (some existing property has been sold for $300,000 an acre)
• Cost of a French oak barrel-$600-850
• Cost of an American oak barrel-$300-550
• Average age of a French oak tree used to make barrels-170 years
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