You've finished dinner, just sipped the last of your wine, and are ready for dessert. But if you're not quite ready to put down the glass of vino, turn it into dessert with a wine float!
What's a wine float? The ingenious marriage of your favorite glass of wine and a sweet scoop of ice cream. Just like a root beer float, which combines bubbly soda with a creamy topping of vanilla or other ice cream, the beer float has made appearances on menus for years. And for the last year, wine floats have been showing up on restaurant and dessert shop menus, as well as on blogs and in my kitchen.
The Sparkling Wine Float
Carbonated beverage + ice cream is the typical success story for a float. So, Italian Prosecco, French Champagne, Spanish Cava, and American made sparkling wines are all options for the base of a wine float.
When choosing the sparkling wine for your float, think of the flavor of the ice cream you'd like to add before picking a flavor. If you're going to go with a super-sweet ice cream, try a drier wine to balance it out.
If you want to get really flavor-forward, pair a sparkling wine packed with melon undertones with a melon sorbet, or a fruity, strawberry-forward sparkling wine with strawberry sorbet or strawberry ice cream. It sounds matchy-matchy, but tastes great.
At Shug's Soda Fountain & Ice Cream in Seattle, Owner Colleen Wilkie gives customers a choice: Champagne or Prosecco as the base, and their choice of the soda shop's range of ice cream and sorbet flavors. The most popular combination is a Bellini-inspired cocktail, with peach sorbet topping Prosecco. For lovers of savory flavors, Shug's often pairs cucumber lime sorbet with Champagne.
Other Wine Floats
When it comes to making non-carbonated wine into a float, the key is to add your own bubbles in addition to the wine. A Spanish-inspired red wine and cola beverage made the menu at Brooklyn Winery's BKW restaurant this summer, with the beverage served in a shareable pitcher made to pour over individual scoops of gelato, served to each guest.
Using seltzer is the other option, and Vine Pair suggests four varieties of wine floats to make with seltzer and your favorite wine. Just as seltzer and milk combine for a classic egg cream, the mixture of the dairy and seltzer give a frothy body, and the addition of Sauvignon Blanc (try it with a peachy ice cream), Malbec (something chocolatey would be lovely), or your other favorite wine take the float to the next level.
Ice Cream Vs. Gelato
Using sorbet instead of ice cream makes for a clean and crisp cocktail without the frothy body. The ice melts smoothly into the wine and you'll be left with a flavorful, sparkling beverage. With an ice cream float, you get the nostalgia of a root beer float, plus the creamy body to contrast with a sparkling beverage.
Choosing Your Glass
You can serve your float in everything from a milkshake or sundae glass, to a drinking glass, or even a bowl. At Shug's, floats are served in what they call a "birdbath glass," also known as a cocktail coupe. The broad round shape and shallow bowl make for a lovely appearance, and is easy to scoop ice cream into.
You could also serve individual portions of gelato in a standard ice cream glass with the wine concoction alongside in a pitcher for self-service.
Shug's Soda Fountain Bellini Float
1 Pint Peach gelato or ice cream
1 Bottle Prosecco or Champagne
Lime zest, Italian cherry, or other garnish
Scoop a ball of ice cream or gelato larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball into an 8 oz glass. Pour 5 oz of wine over the top of it and garnish with your choice of fruit.