The dog days of summer are here and we are looking for a refreshing and cool drink. A few weeks ago in Keeping Your Cool, I posted recipes for refreshing non-alcoholic drinks that everyone will enjoy.
This week we decided to have Sangria. Quite a refreshing nod to a "wine cooler" if we leave out the spirits -- well, we are trying to keep cool . . .
Not just a summer drink, Sangria is versatile and refreshing and seems to be back in vogue. Typically Sangria is made with wine (red or white), fresh fruit and fruit juices, seltzer, sparkling water or a sweet carbonated soda, and optional brandy or other spirit of choice.
The best part is that sangria is a flexible recipe. Use what you like, and eliminate what you don't. Since we are deconstructing the wine you can keep the sangria lighter in alcohol by using more fruit juice or carbonated beverages and adjust it to your taste.
For red sangria choose wines such as grenache, tempranillo, shiraz and malbec or even a Beaujolais all of which are well suited for a refreshing sangria. You can also ask the salesperson in your local wine shop for suggestions.
If you prefer a white wine sangria choose pinot grigio, albarino or vinho verde. These all have citrus flavors which are perfect for using your favorite citrus fruits. You can use whatever wines you have on hand, just don't use your most expensive wines for sangria.
We made white sangria using a vinho verde from Portugal. It's a refreshing and crisp white wine with lots of citrus flavors. I added sliced nectarines to the lemons and oranges for added flavors.
These are a couple of tips I found helpful when making sangria.
- Choose a wine that is young and fruity, low in tannins and fermented in stainless steel rather than oak barrels. The oak can add an unpleasant flavor to the sangria.
- Next try to match the type of fruits with the wine you'll be using. If you are using a white wine choose citrus fruits -- lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit -- to match the flavor profile of the white wine.
- If using red wine choose fruits such as berries, cherries, apples and pears, peaches, nectarines.
Makaing sangria is not rocket science, anyone can do it, but here is a simple recipe to get started. Remember to taste as you go and add whatever you like to please your palate.
Simple Sangria Recipe
1 bottle of red or white wine
1 cup any berries and/or stone fruits cut up
1 cup fruit juice (optional)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 cups of your choice -- sparkling water, seltzer (plain or flavored), ginger ale
With citrus fruits, slice them and place them in the wine and juice for about 1 hour in advance of serving in order for the flavors to blend. Stir gently and serve with fresh fruit slices in each glass.
If using berries or stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines, or plums, slice them up and add to a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Smash the fruit into the sugar a bit and let sit for about 15 minutes, then add to the wine and the rest of the ingredients.
Sangria is great with Mexican foods, tapas, and other spicy style foods as well as salsa with chips, spicy olive tapenade, and also try a spicy guacamole with chips.
This summer is fading fast so kick back and enjoy a refreshing sangria on a balmy summer evening with family and friends.