Sangria -- inexpensive wine plus other ingredients such as fruit juice, fresh fruit, liquor (rum, triple sec, schnapps), sparkling wine, simple syrup or lemon-lime soda -- is a casual beverage, suitable for large groups and outdoor dining, and can be made without a lot of fuss.
When Teresa Meyer DeStasio of Springfield, Ill., was invited recently to an outdoor dinner at the home of friends, she provided sangria to accompany the menu of tacos and Spanish rice.“It’s fruity, not too sweet and very refreshing,” said DeStasio, who brought the ingredients with her and mixed them in a punch bowl when she arrived. That’s the beauty of sangria — inexpensive wine plus other ingredients such as fruit juice, fresh fruit, liquor (rum, triple sec, schnapps), sparkling wine, simple syrup or lemon-lime soda. It’s a casual beverage, suitable for large groups and outdoor dining, and can be made without a lot of fuss. “As a mixologist, I am really careful about measuring ingredients, but sangria breaks all the rules. It’s kind of hard to make a bad one,” said Kim Haasarud, Los Angeles-based author of “101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks.” “It’s basically a punch that is wine-based. You can use seasonal ingredients, it’s easy to make, it’s something you can make in advance, you can use juices you have in your refrigerator and it doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Haasarud, a beverage consultant who creates specialty drinks for restaurants. With roots in Spain and Portugal, classic sangria (“blood” in Spanish) is made with red wine, but white wine yields a variation known as white sangria. Haasarud recommends using hearty red wines such as rioja, syrah, cabernet or chianti, “something that stands up to the ingredients.” For white sangria, she suggests a dry white such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. “Look for a bottle in the $10 range. You don’t want to use expensive wine. What makes fine wine so wonderful is its subtleties. When you mix it with juices, you lose those subtleties,” she said. Keep sangria in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. It should be served over ice, but don’t add the cubes until right before serving or the drink can become too diluted. Fresh fruit adds flavor and eye appeal to sangria. Haasarud suggests cutting it in a variety of shapes and sizes, to “show off the fruit at its best.” Try slicing lemons, limes and oranges in wheels or half-wheels. Cube apricots, peaches, apples and mangoes. Using a mini cookie cutter, make pineapples and kiwi into stars. Don’t forget to pop in small fruits like grapes, cherries and berries. More sangria advice from Haasarud: -- Make it in a glass pitcher to show off the vibrant colors of the liquid and fruit pieces. -- Try topping it off at the last minute with sparkling wine or lemon-lime soda. -- Make it the night before, if possible, so flavors can blend. If you have to make it at the last minute, slightly mash the fruit ever so gently until the pieces start to bleed into the wine. (“You don’t want a pulpy mess.”) -- Know that sangria gets sweeter the longer it sits. -- Serve it year-round. In the fall, make it with pomegranates, cranberry juice or apple cider. DeStasio concocted her own sangria recipe after sampling different types. “Taste it as you go along,” she advised. “You don’t want to put in too much ginger ale or too much peach schnapps.” Teresa’s Sangria From Teresa Meyer DeStasio - 1.5-liter bottle cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend wine (such as Frontera concha y toro) - 2 (1-liter) bottles ginger ale (or use equivalent in lemon-lime soda) - 1 jar stemless maraschino cherries, including juice - 2 to 3 cups frozen peach slices - Slices of orange, lemon, lime - Peach schnapps, to taste (approximately ½ cup) Mix all of the ingredients in a large punch bowl. The cherries and peach schnapps really help sweeten it. The frozen peaches help chill it. Ladle into large cups. Add ice if desired. Makes about 4 quarts. Traditional Sangria From Elaine Wilkinson of Springfield, Ill. - 2 bottles chilled dry red wine (such as Spanish rioja) - 1 cup brandy - 1 cup orange juice - 1/4 cup sugar - 2 oranges, sliced into rounds - 2 Meyer lemons, sliced thin - 2 apples, cut into 1/2-inch chunks Mix and refrigerate for 1 hour everything except club soda. Before serving, add 2 cups club soda. Pour into tall stemmed glass. Note: 1 or 2 fresh raspberries can be added to each glass as a garnish. Makes about 4 quarts. Spanish Sangria From “101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks” - 1 bottle Spanish red wine - 1/4 cup cognac - 1/4 cup orange curacao - 1/4 cup simple syrup (see note) - 2 oranges, cut into half-wheels2 peaches, cut into cubes - 2 lemons, cut into half-wheels Place all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic container and stir will. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve over ice in rocks glasses. Garnish with additional fruit if desired. Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup hot water in a small bowl or other container. Stir or shake until completely dissolved. Let cool completely before using. Store in refrigerator if not using immediately. Makes about 6 servings. White Sangria From www.RecipeTips.com - 1/2 cup hot water - 1/2 cup sugar - 1 (750-mililiter) bottle white wine - 1 lime, cut in slices - 1 orange, cut in slices - 3/4 cup brandy (optional) - 2 cups club soda, chilled - Cracked or cubed ice - 1/2 cup raspberries - Mint leaves for garnish Heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves and then allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add wine, fruit slices and brandy, if desired. Add the club soda right before serving. Pour each serving over ice and garnish with several fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint when ready to serve. Makes about 6 servings. Summer Melon Sangria From “101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks” - 1 bottle dry white wine (such as dry riesling) - 3 teaspoons Midori melon liqueur - 2 cups peeled, seeded and cubed fresh watermelon - 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced - 1 lime, thinly sliced - 1/4 cup sugar Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir, crushing some of the fruit with a spoon. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours or overnight to let the flavors marry before serving. Use within 4 days of making. Serve over ice, including some of the fruit. Makes about 6 servings. Ambrosia Sangria From “101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks” - 1 bottle dry white wine - 3/4 cup coconut rum - 1/4 cup vanilla syrup (such as Monin) - 1 peach, pitted and sliced - 1 orange, cut into half-wheels - 1 cup pineapple chunks - 1/2 cup black cherries, pitted and cut in half - 7-Up, as needed (optional) Combine all of the ingredients except the 7-Up in a large ceramic or glass container and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (best if overnight). Serve over ice. Top with 7-Up, if desired. Makes about 6 servings. Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.