As seen in The News-Herald

By Paris Wolfe

Regina Ruppert of Serenity Valley Winery in Fulton, Missouri, has been playing with wine-tini recipes for the past several years and come up with solid results.

 “We had a customer come in and show us how her dad made ice-tinis with ice wine,” says Ruppert. “He used ice wine, vodka and white soda.”

That sparked Ruppert’s creative side. Soon she was making and selling ice-tinis with different liqueurs and flavored vodkas. After renaming it a “wine-tini,” she started brainstorming recipes.

“There’s a plethora of flavored vodkas,” says Ruppert. “So I started playing with the different combinations in our fruit wines.”

Among her two most popular are strawberry shortcake and caramel apple. The strawberry shortcake is made by spiking strawberry wine with vanilla vodka. Garnishes may include strawberries and whipped cream. The caramel apple is made with the winery’s green-apple Riesling and Smirnoff’s caramel vodka.

The brand of vodka can make a difference in the flavors, says Ruppert. She’s found that Smirnoff’s is best for the caramel apple recipe.

Pinterest has pushed Serenity Valley Winery makers to come up with more combinations. For example, the acai-raspberry red wine is good with chocolate vodka.

Judiciousness is essential when spiking the wine. Just a few drops will develop a flavor. It’s best to start with a half teaspoon or so per glass.

“It just takes a little bit of the flavored vodka,” she says. “You want to accent the flavors, not overwhelm the flavors. We’re not trying to bump up the alcohol, just enhance flavors.”

Because the winery is small, Ruppert doesn’t have time to play bartender, so Serenity Valley sells mini 50-milliliter bottles of flavored vodka, allowing wine buyers to DIY to their own taste profile. A little bottle will more than do a bottle of wine, she says.

For those who find the fruit wines too sweet, she suggests toning down the sweetness with a compatible dry wine. For example, mixing a dry Riesling in with the green-apple Riesling.

While strawberry shortcake is her favorite, caramel apple is the bestseller.

Several Ohio wineries sell fruit wine for those who are interested in creating their own wine-tini recipes.