For those of you who equate “wine cooler” with “icky sugar water with booze,” I’ve got a recipe that turns that notion on its head.
Mango-Cucumber Wine Cooler (click for the recipe) from Bon Appetit magazine is a sophisticated homemade version of the drink. It starts with wine, then cucumber, mango, and mint are added to nicely flavor it.
The technique results in a refreshing, delicious drink that is like summer in a glass. The mango and cucumber flavors seem to bounce off each other in a complimentary way with every sip.
The drink will please all adult palettes, and I’m betting it would even impress the wine connoisseur in your midst.
The recipe says to chill the wine cooler at least three hours and up to six hours, without explaining why the time limit is in place.
My theory is that after six hours, the flavors of mango and cucumber will become too overwhelming in the cooler.
If you strain the cucumber, mango and mint out of the wine any time after three hours and certainly after six, you will prevent over-flavoring from happening and the cooler can continue to chilled. I saved the couple of glasses of cooler for the next day by doing this.
The cooler was stunningly easy to make, and I made the process of the recipe even simpler by using canned, sliced mango rather than a fresh one.
The recipe calls for the leaves of six springs of mint; I simply used about 14 medium-sized mint leaves.
The moderately-priced sauvignon blanc I used in the drink worked very well.
Sugar and hot water are stirred together in a large pitcher, and a 750-ml bottle of sauvignon blanc is poured in. Peeled cucumber rounds, a diced mango and mint leaves are stirred into the wine in the pitcher.
The mixture is chilled between three and six hours (strain out the cucumber, mango and mint after six hours; the wine can continue to be chilled.)
After chilling, ginger ale is stirred into the pitcher.
The drink is served over ice in glasses (the recipe says to use wine glasses, but I used some regular summery glasses). Some of the solids may plop into the glasses, which is just fine, but a lot of them stay behind in the pitcher on their own. I skipped garnishing the drinks with mint springs.