By Rachel Gramer
You’ve heard about the health benefits of red wine. Why not add a little fruit and enjoy some sangria?
In Florida, there’s always time to enjoy a glass of sangria in the sun. It’s quick to make and, more importantly, easy to toss into a pitcher and share with others.
Choose Your Wine
The word “sangria” comes from the Spanish word “sangre,” for blood, because the original recipe for the drink had red wine as a base. Today, both red and white sangria are popular, but red remains the tradition. There has never been an “official” recipe, but since sangria was introduced in the United States at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the popular choice is Rioja or another red Spanish wine. The success of your sangria begins with a good red wine, but what kind of wine you choose ultimately depends on your preference. A medium-bodied red wine works well, like a Beaujolais or Merlot, but a Shiraz or Cabernet blend will work, too.
If you prefer an even lighter take on the beverage, sangria blanco uses white wine and can be even more refreshing. For a nod to tradition, use a Spanish white, like Rioja Blanca, but any dry white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, will do. If you like your sangria extra sweet, try a dry Reisling, keeping in mind that your final product will also have the added sweetness of sugar, fresh fruit, liqueur and mixers.
While simple syrup (sugar dissolved in equal parts water) is a must for any sangria (it mixes better than just granulated sugar), the rest of the recipe is wide open for interpretation. Most sangria recipes call for a few shots of a flavored liqueur, but what flavor of liqueur depends on your choice of red or white wine. Orange flavor from either Curacao or Cointreau are popular choices for red wine — as are any number of fruity brandies, such as blackberry or apricot. White wine sangria can also be complemented by the orange flavor of Triple Sec, an apple liqueur or the berry flavors of Chambord or a cranberry liqueur. If you prefer it’s not too fruity, or if you just want to add some alcohol-free flavor, some recipes also call for cinnamon, brown sugar, honey or even Tabasco.
Perhaps the most fun ingredients for sangria, though, are the fresh fruits that go into the pitcher with the wine and liqueur the night before to soak up the alcohol and flavor the drink. Traditional choices are slices of orange, lemon and lime, and other popular additions include apples, pears, grapes and peaches. While most any fruit will work with red or white wine, fruits with a lighter taste — raspberries, strawberries, kiwis or mangoes — work especially well with sangria blanco.
And to top it off, a little club soda will do the trick to cut the pure alcohol sweetness. If you want to add an extra kick, top off each glass with champagne.