Why Do People In Europe Mix Wine With Their Soda?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Mixing wine with soda may be considered odd – maybe even a violation – by many people in the US, but it is common in Europe. In Spain, Italy, Romania, and some other parts of Europe, red wine and soda mixtures, such as ‘gaseosa’ and ‘kalimotxo,’ are not only favorites in clubs and small bars, but they are also served in some high-end restaurants.

Although this drink is popular among all classes of consumers in Europe, it is often referred to as a pared down or poor man’s version (dubbed by the New York Times) of ‘sangria,’ which is a Spanish favorite made from mixing red wine, gaseosa, and citrus juices. 

This is because wine and soda mixtures are mostly made with cheap red wine, and you can easily make them without any mixology experience.

Europeans agree that combining red wine and soda creates a delightful taste that allows you to simultaneously enjoy the soda flavor and wine aftertaste. 

For more reasons why Spaniards and Italians love this mixture, read on!

What Is a Kalimotxo?

Kalimotxo or calimocho (pronounced as cal-eee-mo-Cho) is simply a mixture of red wine and coke. This drink is made by mixing equal parts of coke and red wine. However, in some cases, your bartender or mixologist may add more wine or more coke, depending on the wine used.

Also, in some places, kalimotxo includes other ingredients such as blackberry liqueur, and cola is substituted for orange soda. It is usually served in short glasses over ice and is often served with lime. While adding lime to this sweet drink puts in a bit of tart taste, it also enhances the flavor of the mixture.

If you are wondering what this drink might taste like, you do not have to ponder too much as its taste is easy and familiar. Drinking kalimotxo is as delicious as drinking your coke or red wine alone, except this is better! 

Long-time drinkers of this mix say it is simply a lot of coke with a wine aftertaste. 

Since coke contains caffeine, this wine and soda combo is probably ideal for a late-afternoon drink to get you started for the night ahead. Obviously, there is something in this drink that Europeans find yummy and satisfying. Spaniards agree that this cocktail is best taken with savory foods like tapas.

Where Did a Kalimotxo (or Calimocho In Other Countries) Originate From?

wine bottle

This concoction has roots in Spain and has been around since the 1920s. But it was uncommon at the time as Coca-cola was not manufactured in the country yet. In 1953, the first Coca-cola company was opened in Spain, and with adequate amounts of coke around, the drink started garnering popularity.

In the 1970s, this red wine and coke mix was called ‘Roja libre,’ which means ‘free red’ in Spanish. But, in 1972, it was renamed kalimotxo during a festival in Getxo, Spain, by some servers who wanted to mask the bad taste of their red wine and decided to add coke, which was the only other drink they had available.

Interestingly, Coca-cola did the magic – the crowd loved it! Their combo of bad-tasting red wine and coke became popular in the Basque country. It has since become a staple in Spain and most of Europe.

Why Is It Called a Kalimotxo?

During a festival in Getxo, Spain, and after adding coke to unpleasant tasting red wine salvaged the party, the drink was named after one of the event organizers called Kalimero, also known as ‘Kali.’ 

The man was not attractive, and mischievous workers added the Basque word for ugly, which is ‘motxo.’ So, the name kalimotxo was born. Although, in a Romanian bar, you may want to order a ‘motorina’ for a mix of red wine and coke.

Its other names include katemba in South Africa, cátembe in Mozambique, bambus in Croatia, jote in Chile, and jesus juice in Argentina.

Why Do People Put Soda In Their WIne?

wine with soda exp

People often put soda in their wine to mask bad-tasting wine or because they love the recipe. The latter is mostly true in Spain and other parts of Europe, and some parts of China.

While a kalimotxo drink entails adding one-to-one parts of red wine and coke, a wine spritzer is made by mixing wine with club soda over ice. White wine is commonly used in a wine spritzer, and club soda adds lightness and carbonation to the alcohol.

Tinto de verano – the red wine of summer – is also a loved recipe in Europe. It combines cheap red wine with artificially sweetened mineral water soda called gaseosa. 

Restaurants often serve two large bottles of wine and gaseosa for people on the table to take their preferred mix. Ice and fruit slices can be added to the combination.

What Type of Wine Is Used For a Kalimotxo?

wine with soda exp

Cheap and young red wine is generally used to make a kalimotxo, which is why it is popular among teenagers. Some of the most common types of wine used in kalimotxo include chianti, rioja, or tempranillo.

However, in China, it is becoming common for young people to mix expensive red wines with cola. While some consider this a waste of good wine, others are eager to try it out.

Can You Mix Wine With Pepsi?

Alcohol and Pepsi make a great cocktail. While this combination is not as popular as mixing alcohol and coke, it is still as refreshing and tasty! 

Mixing red wine with a cola-based soft drink is common in Europe. The cola-based soft drink used in this is usually coke, but it can also be Pepsi. 

Many people in the US find it inappropriate to mix wine and soda. Still, it is easily found in restaurants and casual mixes in plastic bottles in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Cola Rot and Kalte Muschi are some beverages that mix cola soft drinks and red wine.

In the popular Spanish cocktail, Kalimotxo, coke may be substituted for Pepsi without you losing out on the great taste of the drink.

What Other Types of Soda Are Used To Make a Kalimotxo?

kalimotxo in wine glass

Kalimotxo is made from a combination of red wine and cola-based soda. Although coke was the original and still is the most popular soda used in this mixture, many other cola-based sodas, such as Pepsi, RC Cola, and Faygo Cola, can be used.

In some places, coke is substituted for orange soda; however, you will most likely get a different taste from the regular kalimotxo. Red wine spritzers may be your best option if you are looking for a more flexible wine and soda mix.

Red wine spritzers are made by mixing red wine with either club soda, Coca-cola (same as the kalimotxo), Sprite, 7Up, or orange sodas. Red wine with orange soda is most people’s favorite. Tinto de verano is also a popular red wine and soda combination.

Bottom Line

Europeans mix their wine with soda to mask the taste of bad wine or to enjoy the unique taste of the mixture. Kalimotxo is a combination of red wine and coke that is loved in Europe and some parts of Asia. It is made using cheap wine and is popular among teenagers.

While it is popularly made with coke, it can also be made with Pepsi and other cola-based sodas. Mixing red wine with orange sodas or lemon-lime flavored sodas makes a great-tasting red wine spritzer.

Wine and soda combos are special and unique, although considered by some people as a violation of wine. If you are in Spain, then you must have tried this mix. If not, then you should. It’s amazing!