Irish Wine Punch (aka Irish Tinto)

This take on Tinto de Verano celebrates Irish craft drinks produced by three makers from Cork, Kerry and Wicklow. It featured in the Blas na hEireann 2023 Finalists Launch and Producers Showcase at the 2023 Awards.

This take on Tinto de Verano celebrates Irish craft drinks produced by three makers from Cork, Kerry and Wicklow. It featured in the Blas na hEireann 2023 Finalists Launch and Producers Showcase at the 2023 Awards.

I’ve been making this Irish Wine Punch for nearly four years since first stumbling upon a drink called Tinto de Verano while on holiday in Spain. It had been a very hot day, and I’d spent most of the afternoon hiding under some shade on the beach simply unable to put down Isabella Tree’s incredible book, Wilding. There was a mention of retiring to one of the beach side bars for something refreshing, so off we went.

You know when you get to that too hot stage of being hot, when nothing at all food or drink takes your fancy? That was me at this particular point. I didn’t want a beer – too heavy. I didn’t want wine – too dry. I didn’t want a spirit – because the pours are ridiculous here and I don’t need more ways to feel sleepy. I didn’t want a soft drink – too sweet.

What then?

Sangria? No… I’ve never met a Sangria I truly liked. But underneath was a drink I’d never heard of before: Tinto de Verano. I was intrigued, so I asked: what’s Tinto de Verano? It’s summer wine topped with lemon fanta. I’ll admit, this sounded like it could be terrible, but I ordered it anyway – and that was all I ever drank for the rest of the holiday!

It comes in an enormous half-stein type of glass, and you simply cannot stop drinking it. It’s addictive in a good way, and super refreshing. Returning to West Cork, and the dreary dark and damp of late autumn, thoughts of sipping a bit of Tinto was just the teaser of summer time frivolity that keeps one going through the Irish winter.

The OG Irish Tinto

When lockdown hit the following March, like most people I had a little more spare time on my hands and we were experiencing the most incredible weather that, in my memory, felt like a six month long summer. In searching around for things to keep me occupied, I returned to a manuscript for a book I had begun writing a few years before about the early years of when I ran supper clubs from my home.

It’s never seen the light of day, although I remain hopeful. It does contain some really glorious recipes, including concoctions for cocktails. Thoughts returned to the Tinto de Verano and how could I make it better using only Irish-made craft drinks. At around the same time, Valentia Island Vermouth released their Ór craft vermouth, the first of its kind made here in Ireland. I was also becoming intrigued with the fruit wines coming out of Wicklow by Móneir / Wicklow Way Wines, and my ongoing love for the beautifully crafted honey meads from Kinsale Mead were always on my mind.

It occurred to me that those three drinks could make an Irish version of Tinto de Verano – a sort of classier Irish Wine Punch. I set about trying to figure out a recipe that worked and was reminiscent of those sunny afternoons on Spanish beaches in a sunny back garden in lockdown pandemic Ireland. Well, I do love a challenge!

My original version of this recipe used the Raspberry Wine from Móneir and the Hazy Summer Mead from Kinsale Mead. I loved the tartness of the raspberry wine and the sweet/tart/off-dry balance of the summer mead, paired with the vermouth and a splash of soda water delivered the perfect balance of fruit, acidity, and sweetness. I was more than happy with the combination, and verily made jugs of the stuff over the next two years as we flitted in and out, in and out of lockdowns and the endless restrictions.

Because I had notions that the book this recipe went into was going to be amazing, I purposefully kept it out of the blog. I liked that it was my original recipe and that it was really feckin’ good! You see, once you publish something, it’s very hard to control where it goes – especially when it comes to recipes. We all now how easy it is for a recipe to be plagiarised, after all. So it stayed hidden away in my files, making an appearance every now and again on my Instagram feed, but otherwise closely guarded.

Then, in April 2023, I got the wonderful news of being named the Blas na hEireann 2023 Irish Food Producers’ Champion. Voted for by the food producers themselves in the Blas network, I was honoured – and still am – to be named as their champion this year. Past winners include the Allen family from Ballymaloe, John & Sally McKenna, IndieFude, Neven Maguire, and Brian McDermott, amongst others. It really is an amazing role call of great food personalities to be named amongst.

In September, the Finalists selected from over 3,000 entrants were revealed, and I was asked by Fallon and Artie of Blas if I would work to prepare a picnic style menu for the Press Launch of the 2023 Finalists at The Fumbally Stables in Dublin. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to pick from such an amazing array of producers, but it was my absolute pleasure to do it. When it came to deciding what to serve drinks wise, we needed an non-alcoholic option, and I could choose an alcoholic option.

For the alcohol-free drink, I selected Cork’s BKultured Sassy Berry Water Kefir – a great product. When I asked Fallon who was on the list for alcoholic drinks, the first three companies she mentioned were Valentia Island Vermouth, Kinsale Mead and Wicklow Way Wines! I couldn’t believe my ears!

I said, “Here, Fallon, I have this kinda secret recipe that uses all three of those drinks and I think it would be a perfect way to show how great they are in their own right, but also served together.”

She was up for this in a big way! Absolutely, came the response back. I had to tweak the recipe slightly from my original: Strawberry Wine instead of the blackberry, and the Wild Red Mead instead of the Hazy Summer Mead – I needed to make sure that balance was still there and it wasn’t all just a symphony of sweet, sweet, sweet.

Well, it went down an absolute storm in the press event. I was so delighted. It was the strangest feeling seeing you recipe drink made up, knowing that it’s banging, but still getting the butterflies in your stomach wondering if everyone else will like it too. Turns out I needn’t have worried… it was all perfect!

Just last weekend, I was back down in Dingle for the Blas na hEireann awards weekend event. On Thursday evening, there was a Preview Showcase event where we all got to view every single on of the finalists products on display, and a chance to mingle and catch up with industry friends, and make some new connections too. Throughout, little nibbles based on the original picnic menu Fallon and I worked on together, bottles of incredible Mescan Brewery lager, and, low and behold, glass upon glass of my Irish Tinto de Verano glistening in the backlight like little jewels of sunshine on a rainy evening in West Kerry!

Many people I have the most respect for said they thought it was a seriously delicious drink. More besides said it was a brilliant way to showcase three Irish craft drinks and how versatile they can be. More again said how amazing it was that in Ireland we are now at a stage where our craft drinks producers are flying with the quality, provenance and integrity of their craft.

And to think it all began because I was too hot and bothered on a beach in Spain!

It has been an incredible year, and a large part of that is due to the opportunities that have come out of being this years Producers’ Champion for Blas. But seeing influential people drinking my original recipe drink and absolutely loving it has probably been the biggest buzz for me of the year!

All three drinks were Finalists, and from them Kinsale Mead and Wicklow Way Wines both walked away with awards for their drinks! Valentia Island Vermouth was a past winner and, as a finalists this year, continues to be recognised for its quality, flavour and versatility.

All of this years #Blas2023 winners can be found HERE!

I guess by now you wish I’d just get on with it and spill the beans… How can we all make this drink?!! OK, I’ll put you out of your misery. I’m taking a deep breath and putting this big little idea out in the world for you to make and drink and love it too!

Word of caution: except for the dash of soda water, this is a drink that is almost pure alcohol! It’s exceptionally easy to drink, but don’t let that fool you – it’s a punchy punch, so please #drinkresponsibly !

Note on Ice: Make up this drink without the ice in the pitcher. Put the ice in the glass just before serving – just a couple of good sized cubes. This will prevent too much dilution of the flavour.


  • 750 ml Móinéir Wines, Irish Strawberry Wine
  • 150 ml Kinsale Mead, Wild Red Mead
  • 150 ml Valentia Island Vermouth
  • Slices of orange and lemon
  • Sparkling Water
  • Ice


  • Into a large well-chilled pitcher, pour the wine, mead and vermouth and stir. Top up with sparking water, add orange and lemon slices.
  • Pour into glasses over plenty of ice.

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