An Ode to Sangria

I love sangria so much I can’t even begin to explain it. I mean, it’s fruit, it’s wine, it’s hard liquor, it’s delicious, and it gets you wasted. Can anyone find anything wrong with that? Didn’t think so.

The joy of sangria is the joy of many leftover items creating something fresh tasting. Take 5 dollar wine, fruit that’s seen better days, and some less than ideal hard liquor someone brought to your last party… and somehow end up with an impressive and delicious carafe of seriously mind-altering booze.

So here is my recipe for guaranteed crowd-pleasing sangria:

1. Any wine, really. Some wine guidelines: cheap or low-brow enough to be your last resort, but not so bad you spit it out. I prefer to use slightly sweeter, smoother wines, like Burgundy. Magnums or jugs of wine are fine here-- really, don’t be afraid to reach for the Carlo Rossi on this one, friends. Carlo was there for you in college, he’s there for you now. Also, you can be daring and make a white sangria. For whites, again with the slightly sweeter, smooth wines- I normally despise Chardonnay (yick) but it works well in a sangria.

2. Juice and fruit. I tend to go light on the juice and heavy on the fruit. I’ll mash the fruit a little to release more flavor. As for the juice, frozen cans of concentrate work well with a little water added. Just like I like my ice cream chunky, and I like my juice pulpy, I like my sangria filled with interesting textures. So I like to puree or mince a fruit, and thus opening the surface area and fibres of the fruit to become more a part of the liquid. I use a food processor or blender. For a white sangria, you might want to stick to lighter and crisper fruits like pears, apple, or melon.

3. Hard liquor. One of the best things about sangria is that it works with just about any hard liquor, and each liquor gives it distinct character. Personally, I like using vodka or rum, but I’ve been known to use the ends of an old bottle of Hennesey. Go heavier on the hard liquor than you would think- the interplay of flavors mask the harshness of cheap liquor.

Some additional sangria tips:

*Be creative with your fruit choice. I once made a white wine sangria with kiwi, cucumber and cilantro. I honestly can’t remember if it was good or not (well, because I can’t remember, I’m guessing it was at least drinkable!), but your guests will always be impressed with your audacity.

*Once I made ice cubes out of juice and a little wine to keep the flavor from weakening as the ice melted.

*I’m not one for measuring- I prefer the “have a sip and adjust” method (even if I end up hammered before my party starts). But as a guideline, I would say I use around 5 parts wine to 3 parts fruit & juice to 2 parts hard liquor. This is just a guess—honestly, the best route is to taste and see how you like your sangria.

I hope these guidelines help you make one of my favorite beverages ever!


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