I use wine in cocktails when I have unfinished bottles about to spoil. Sparkling wine is the most common wine found in cocktails. Unfortunately, opening seventy dollar bottles of champagne to make a few cocktails is beyond most people’s means. In fact, opening any decent full bottle of wine to make a cocktail is tough. Wine-based cocktails work better at bars where there are always open bottles. To that end, I buy the tiny two serving bottles of sparkling wine. On big occasions, when I open a bottle of Moet & Chandon, I save some with which to make The Seelbach, one of my all-time favourites. The real stuff makes a big difference but not enough to justify the steep cost.
I make a number of cocktails that call for whites, Rieslings and Chardonnays mostly, and can only remember ever making one cold drink with a red wine base.
I realize port is technically a fortified wine but the way it is used in cocktails is more similar to wine and sherry and thus I included it in this section. Port is called for in some recipes and for that reason I always have a tawny at the ready. Even more common are recipes that require sherry. The LCBO inconsistently stocks the incredible Lustau products. The bottles are small and some last longer than others. The good news is they’re relatively inexpensive. I try to have a Manzanilla, East India Solera, Pedro Ximenez, Palo Cortado and Deluxe Cream on the shelf. Williams & Hubert’s 12 year old Oloroso is also beautiful and readily available at the LCBO. I also keep Madeira and Brandy de Jerez, though I use them rarely. Good quality sherry can add so much to a cocktail, and I tend to be strongly drawn to them.