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Sangria, That Cool Refreshing Drink
Saturday, 26 March 2011 17:15
A COUPLE OF weeks ago, I started experimenting with Sangria recipes. It was a fun exercise that allowed me to play around with all the various ingredients in different ways to see how the finished product would taste. As always, this made me wonder about the history of Sangria. Today, I'll share some of what I learned.

sangriaSangria is a wine punch that has its roots in Spain and Portugal. It's based on the traditional wine punches that were popular all across Europe for hundreds of years. It was introduced to the United States in 1964 at the World's Fair in New York, but by then it had been around for centuries. Traditionally, Sangria is made from red wines and since it has Spanish roots, the typical wines used are Rioja, Tempranillo, and Garnacha, but any good red wine will work. Grapes were planted in Spain about 200 years before the common era by the Romans, who enthusiastically enjoyed the wines from this region -- especially the red ones. Although Sangria is traditionally made from red wines, it can also be made from white wines and sparkling wines as well. In the southern part of Spain, Sangria is often called zurra. This type of sangria is made with peaches and nectarines.

The typical sangria recipe includes red wine, fruit juices, soda, fruit and brandy. The most common mistake in making sangria is the use of low quality wine. You should always use good quality wines. Why make something that you're going to drink using something that you would not drink? If possible, you should chill the wine overnight. This allows the fruit flavors to blend into the drink. Wines such as Rioja, Tempranillo, and Garnacha help add authenticity to your sangria, but by all means choose a wine that you enjoy. If you enjoy white wines, Albarino, Marina Alta, and Verdejo would be the traditional choices, but again, it's your sangria, so choose your favorite. For those who really want to have some fun, try a nice Cava, a sparkling wine that comes from Spain.

Sangria can be enjoyed any time, but it's definitely a great summer drink. The most important thing to remember is that there are as many recipes for sangria as there are grains of sand on the beach, so sangria will not taste the same from place to place. That's not bad news though because sangria is generally good no matter what. Making it at home gives you the freedom to experiment to find the style that you like. Just remember to keep track of what you add to your personal mix so that you can repeat it from batch to batch.

Soon-to-be-famous scientist Erasmus Darwin once said that a fool is a man who never tried an experiment in his life. Not one to be considered a fool, I thought I'd list a few recipes for you to experiment with. This will keep you off of the fools list as well. I've always said that these posts were all about lending a helping hand, so I'm keeping my word.

Red Wine Sangria

2 large oranges, one orange sliced and one orange juiced
1 large lemon, sliced
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Grand Marnier
One 750 ml. bottle of Rioja, chilled

Preparation

Add sliced orange and lemon and sugar to large pitcher. Mash gently with a wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice, but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves. Stir in orange juice, Grand Marnier and Rioja. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving, add 6 to 8 ice cubes and stir vigorously to allow even distribution of the fruit and pulp.

White Wine Sangria

1 bottle of Albarino
2/3 cup of white sugar
3 oranges, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1/2 liter of ginger ale

Preparation

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice from the fruit wedges into the wine. Add the fruit wedges to the mix and then add the sugar. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale before serving.

Cava Sangria

1 bottle of Cava, chilled
1/4 cup white grape juice
2 ounces of Cognac
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sliced raspberries
10 mint leaves

Preparation

Stir the Cava, grape juice, Cognac, and sugar together in a pitcher. Add strawberries, raspberries, and mint. Serve over ice.

So, there you have it, Sangria -- undiluted. The best thing about Sangria is the freedom that you have when making it. There really aren't any hard and fast rules, but there are plenty of recipes with lots of wiggle room for personal improvement. The idea is to use quality ingredients and have fun. The best way to have fun is to invite friends over to try your experiments. The worst thing that could happen is that you run out of sangria in the middle of a good time. Keep notes on your experiments, so that you can recreate the sangrias that you and your friends really like. We'll be trying sangria this summer at our bar. I can't wait to see what people think of our recipes. I really haven't had a bad sangria yet, so my guess is that ours will be a hit. If you're in the area, come by and try some. As always, whether drinking sangria with us or with friends, please do so responsibly. Until next time...prosit!!!

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