Amongst all alcoholic concoctions, there are arguably no other with as many twists and variations, as the wine-based punch known as Sangria. Over the last few decades, Sangria has risen to extreme popularity, bringing the best and worst of human creativity. So with so many options, how do we distinguish between the good and the bad?
Welcome to FMMS’ Fortnight of Wine! As the harvest season approaches, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a deep dive into that most wonderful of elixirs. Over the next two weeks, we’ll have a few more posts than usual as we explore wine’s ins and outs, after which we’ll be be back to our regularly scheduled programming. So grab a glass of your favourite and read on, for as Andre Simon said, “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”
Monday, September 15 – A Brief History of Wine
Wednesday, September 17 – Varieties of Wine
Friday, September 19 – Sangria
Monday, September 22 – Conversations with a Wine Connoisseur
Wednesday, September 24 – Our Wine Tasting Experience
Friday, September 26 – Conversations with a Winemaker
Take advantage of the versatility; make the ones that appeal to you in small batches and find your favourite. Don’t waste time with crappy ingredients, or gimmicky shortcuts – you’re going to get crappy Sangria. What do we think? Jump to the two recipes we found to be a perfect balance of delicious and boozy.
Here in North America, Sangria is typically associated with Spanish, Portuguese, and Mexican restaurants. However, it is also synonymous with home get-togethers, served in large quantities, as an exotic punch and most often consumed by women. I would argue that it’s perfect for everyone; delicious, easy to drink, and can knock someone on their ass if made properly and consumed too quickly.
Sangria has its origins in Spain and Portugal dating as far back as the Roman Empire. It gets its name from the Spanish and Portuguese word for bloodletting and bloodbath due to its obvious resemblance to blood.
The Basic Sangria recipe contains red and rosé wine, brandy and orange liqueur to fortify it, sugar to sweeten it, a bit of soda to add sparkle, and of course, the drink’s signature fruit.
It’s difficult to say if this is THE Sangria that made it to North America in the mid 60s but most agree it goes something like this:
2 bottles dry red wine
1 bottle rosé wine
1 can orange soda
Sugar to taste
1oz triple sec or Cointreau
Diced apples / and orange slices
Stir to combine liquids in large pitcher, add sugar to taste, and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. Add fruit before serving.
As mentioned above, the rise in popularity and fundamental versatility of Sangria has led to so many variations. I took a quick lap around the Internet and found that nearly every fruit has made it into a Sangria. Some of them even include vegetables and herbs. Others are sweet, savory, or even spicy. There are almost infinite more variations with different types of wines; traditional red wine, white, Moscato, sparkling wines, and some even made with fortified wines such as vermouth and port!
Then… as people became excited and “creative” they made some atrocious decisions. The result?
“Quick Sangria – crush some berries, add wine” (Is this warm?)
“Easy Sangrias – combine Orange Crush and wine” (Wait… what?)
Some even see Sangria as an alternative for wine they don’t like or strategy to save nearly-spoiled fruit.
As a reader of our site, I urge you not to do this – please! Take the time to look for recipes that use fresh ingredients, good wine (that doesn’t mean expensive), and don’t rush the process if you can. Remember, good ingredients in, good Sangria out.
As for us, there are two Sangrias that caught our eyes and tastes buds. In the Joy of Mixology, Gary Regan highlighted two Sangrias originally developed by Bobby Flay for his (now closed) Bolo restaurant in New York City. The Spanish-focused restaurant may not be around, but these recipes continue to satisfy (and do they ever!).
The following recipes won’t only satisfy your female guests, but your moustached and bearded macho friends as well – trust me, I know a few. These recipes pack a punch both in flavour and in alcohol content. With that, a note of caution: the first thing your friends will notice is the strong alcohol taste in the recipes below. If you have some lightweights in your ranks, it may be a good idea to bump down the Brandy just a tad.
Red Pomegranate Sangria
1 bottle dry Red Wine (such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup brandy
1 cup simple syrup
2 cups orange juice
¾ cup pomegranate juice
2 oranges (sliced into thin rounds)
3 green apples (cored and cut into thin slices)
2 lemons (sliced into thin rounds)
Combine all the ingredients, except the fruit, and let sit in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to two days. Add the fruit before serving.
White Peach Sangria
1 bottle Pinot Grigio
1 cup brandy
1 cup simple syrup
2 cups orange juice
5 – 6 peaches
2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds
Puree approximately three peaches to fill ¾ cup. Pit and slice the remaining peaches. Combine all the ingredients and let sit in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to two days. Add the fruit before serving.