Sangria… did you know?

By Rod Michael

It was 1964 and the United States got its first real introduction to Sangria at the World’s Fair in New York. Its humble roots started in Spain and today it is served in every establishment with their own spin on it. It is without question Spain’s most popular drink. It is served chilled and goes with just about anything. In my own words, “this is so good, it even goes with bad conversation.”

Sangria means bloodletting and can be traced back to the 18th century. I had my first run in with it in 1971 and since then we as a family, have been coming up with our own summer blends. It fits just about any occasion and makes everyone a lover. Who does not like a little wine with fruit and possibly other spirits mixed in?

The main ingredient is wine. Until modern times, water was not always safe to drink. People would bathe in it and even wash their horses in it. The only safe liquid had to have some alcohol in it.

Do not forget that Spain is known for its vineyards dating to 200 BC and most households made some wine from fruits, grapes, or berries. It was easy to liven things up by adding some fruits and other ingredients to give something a different flavor. Sangria got it name from the locals, perhaps by watching the red juice flow out of the grapes when they were squeezed, hence “Bloodletting”.

Sangria is traditionally a red wine punch. The red version is typically made with a Tempraneillo grape from the Rioja Region. It can also be made with white wines or even Roses. The white version is called Sangria Blanco. In the south of Spain Sangria is typically called zurra and is created with peach or nectarine. If you want, you can even use a sparkling wine to make a nice bubbly version.

Typically, this beverage is made from red wine, fruit juices, soda water, fruit and sometimes brandy. The beauty of this, you can do whatever strikes your palate and make it yours. Chill your wine overnight, add fruit let it get happy, and mix in a traditional Sangria pitcher. It is worth buying a pitcher, that you will use throughout the summer, plus it also prevents all the fruit from flying into your wine glass. Do take some fruit out of the pitcher and add to your glass to create a lovely piece of artwork. When choosing a wine glass, try one that can hold your drink and fruit.

You will become the mixologist, be sure to think about what fruits will go with a red wine and ones that will go with a white wine. We are using local fruits, so think peaches, nectarines, berries, apples, pears, pineapples, limes, and orange slices. I like tossing in a little Vodka, gin, a flavored liquor and some simple syrup to finish it off. Making sangria should be fun, so please smile and taste as you proceed. The red version will take a splash or two of brandy or whatever you think might make it taste better. Try to make this a day ahead so all the flavors get to meld, and you get a second chance to tweak the blend. Do experiment with different fruits and see what tastes you can come up with, all will taste good, some just a little better to your taste buds.

It is summer, we wait all year for this time, so why not say it with Sangria? This is a time for serendipity, do not buy a premade bottle, do it yourself. Sangria can keep for a couple days in the fridge but do me a favor this summer, as we continue to social distance, gather a small group of 10 or less friends and enjoy this delightful libation.

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SUMMER SANGRIA

Peach Sangria

Ingredients

1
bottle white wine (Spanish table wine or Pinot Grigio)

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 peach brandy * less if you like less sweet

3 peaches, sliced

1/2 cup raspberries

In a large pitcher, mix together the wine, sugar and brandy. Add in the peaches and raspberries. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours. When ready to serve, pour into glasses.

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Red Sangria

Ingredients

1 bottle  red wine (Spanish table wine or a Pinot Noir)

1/2 cup brandy

1 orange

1 lemon

1 lime

1 green apple

Optional sweetener: add some simple syrup or orange juice

Add the wine, brandy, cut up fruit (small wedges) into a large pitcher. Cover and refrigerate for 2 or more hours. Serve over ice and if you like it fizzy, top each glass off with a splash of club soda.

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There is no right or wrong way to make sangria, it’s personal preference. Play around, experiment and most of all have fun with it!