Sangria is a sweet solution to sour grapesSummer is the season of barbecues, beaches, yard parties and ice-cold drinks to rub across your forehead when the shade sneaks away from your favorite chair.
One problem with having a large group of friends mingling at your get-together is the constant need to refresh a drink on a particularly hot day. A great solution to this problem is pitchers: pitchers of water, lemonade, iced tea and sangria.
Sangria originated in Spain and Portugal, where leftover wine and hot summers were the mother of this invention. Most traditional recipes include red wine, chopped fruit, sweetener and a bit of brandy. The red wine rule has been thrown out the window recently, and white wine has become popular with sangria drinkers. The best part about sangria is that those two half-bottles of leftover red on the counter can be transformed from mouth-puckering to beautifully sweet and flavorful with just a little work.
If you need to purchase a wine for making sangria, the cheap-o bottles work just fine. This drink doesn’t break the bank.
Other than having wine as the base, variations of sangria are multitude. It seems everything is up for grabs when making a pitcher. Apples, limes, oranges, melons and strawberries can be used, but the key is to get flavorful, ripe fruits. Sweetener is another wild card. Honey, sugar, simple syrup or your favorite lemon-lime soda can be used. I’ve often used orange juice to fill out a pitcher as well. Then there’s the brandy: To add or not to add? While it isn’t required, it will add some depth to the drink.
1 bottle of red wine
1 cup orange juice (to taste)
¼ cup brandy (optional)
2 to 3 limes sliced in wedges
1 orange sliced in rounds
1 handful of grapes, halved
Add the wine, brandy and some of the orange juice to the pitcher and then squeeze the limes in before dropping them into the pitcher. Remove the rinds from half the orange rounds and squeeze them in as well, adding the remaining pulp. Slice the remaining rounds from the center to the edge, pulling them into a long curl and pop them into the mix. Also, smash the grapes lightly with the side of the knife before tossing them into the pitcher. Orange juice is the sweetening agent in this concoction, so add a bit more if it’s not sweet enough.
1 bottle of white wine
¼ cup brandy (optional)
2 cups lemon-lime soda or simple syrup (to taste)
2 to 3 lemons sliced in wedges
3 cups of balled watermelon
2 cups of cubed pineapple
This recipe is similar to the red sangria in its preparation. Add the wine, brandy and some of the soda before squeezing in the lemon wedges and dropping in the watermelon. Crush the pineapple slightly and add it as well. Add soda or simple syrup to taste. Let the pitcher stand for an hour or so before serving. One last note on White Sangria: Using a naturally sweet wine like a Riesling or Gewursteminer is easier to sweeten, though a Pinot grigio’s apple tartness can make a fun addition to the flavor. Otherwise, have some more soda on hand.
Make both of these at least an hour before guests arrive and let it chill in the fridge, though be advised, the flavors marry better the longer it is allowed to sit. Throw a wooden spoon in each pitcher when serving so you can add some of the tasty fruit into the drink. Serve over ice.