Tuesday, July 6, 2010

SANGRIA WINE


Sangria wine

With summer here and patio parties no doubt on your agenda, I've been writing a lot about some nice white wines and rosés that are so good for warm-weather outdoor get-togethers.  These are fantastic summer drinks, and for my money, whites and rosés can get me through any summer, with a few hoppy beers along the way.  There are a couple of other items on the summer beverage menu into which we should take a look.  One of those is sangria, a wine punch that originated in Spain.

Sangria is usually made with a bottle of red wine, thin-sliced fresh fruit and sparkling water, soda or ginger ale.  For every bottle of wine used, use about half that amount of the other liquid.  I've noticed a lot of restaurants that serve sangria are also serving a version made with white wine.

It's made by the pitcher, and most people use either wine that is already open or what we'll generously refer to as "bargain wine" to make their sangria.  As for the fruit, oranges, apples, pears, peaches and grapes are always good, but one of the beauties of sangria is that you can use whatever fruit you like or happen to have around the house.  A tropical sangria, with pineapple, passion fruit or mangoes is a nice twist. Strawberries are good, too.

You can't go wrong with a nice Spanish wine - I'm thinking Tempranillo for red Sangria or Albarino for white - but feel free to try a wine that's a favorite of yours, or one with a flavor profile that will bring out the taste of whatever fruit you are using.

Here's the basic sangria recipe:

1. Cut the fruit into thin slices to maximize the surface area.  Two cups of fruit per bottle of wine should do it.

2. Pour the wine into a pitcher and put the fruit into it.  If you are serving it right away, cut the fruit into wedges and squeeze the juice into the pitcher, tossing in the squeezed rinds as you do.

3. A lot of recipes call for a half cup of sugar, but if you are watching your sugar intake, you can leave it out.  The fruit itself contains enough sugar for me.  If you do use sugar, use simple sugar, not granulated.  The simple sugar will dissolve, granulated won't.

4. Try to make your sangria ahead of time so the fruit and the wine can marinate together.  Keep it in the fridge for a day, if possible.

5. When you are ready to serve it, then add the sparkling water, soda or ginger ale and serve over lots of ice.
There you have it - instant party.  That was easy.

Sangria always seems to be a real crowd-pleaser, and it's a taste treat which should be enjoyed often throughout the summer.  You have the basic steps, now start experimenting with your own personal twists.  Leave a comment here and tell us how you do sangria.