On a quick tour of Barcelona and the Costa Brava in Spain recently, we had our fill of sangria every time we ate tapas.
Prawns, patatas bravas, Iberian ham and hunks of bread went nicely with the essential glass of fruit and wine.
We noticed that most everyone else sipping on the blood-red, fruit-laden wine drink were tourists, too. The locals were enjoying mixed drinks and beer, it seemed.
That didn't stop us. Sangria is popular all over the world, even if the Spanish consider it a cheap party drink whose main purpose is to lubricate a crowd.
But sangria doesn't have to be made with sketchy wine, and its adaptability to all sorts of fruits makes it an every-season drink.
The trick with making sangria is to chill it for at least 24 hours before serving. This allows the fruit juices to marry with the wine and liqueurs.
If you're in a real rush, make it in the morning to serve in the evening. Anything less and you won't get the full flavour of the drink.
If the recipe calls for carbonated soda, add that right before serving to preserve the fizz.
When selecting a wine for sangria, you should subscribe to the same advice as you would for cooking with wine. Don't use something you wouldn't drink by itself.
But don't go overboard and buy a $25 bottle of wine that you will be diluting with fruit juices, other spirits and ice.
You should be able to find a bottle for $10 or less that will suffice.
For white sangrias, use pinot grigio, moscato, albarino or even a riesling. All of these wines bring proper acidity to play off the sweetness of the fruit.
For red sangrias, consider rioja from Spain or syrah, merlot or pinot noir.
You might even experiment with a sparkling wine, though it will lose its fizz during the chilling period.
Sangria is ultimately a very forgiving drink.
It works well with most fruits, though stay away from bananas, which tend to disintegrate and make the drink muddy.
Plums, nectarines and peaches get along just fine with either red or white wine. Make sure you remove the pits.
And don't forget sturdy apple slices. They keep their shape while soaking up lots of flavours. It's amazing that they still snap after soaking in wine for hours.
No matter that sangria doesn't get the proper reverence in its birthplace. We'll lift a glass of fruit goodness to toast just about anything.RECIPE: WHITE PEACH SANGRIA
1 bottle white wine (such as Spanish albarino)
60ml triple sec
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
60ml simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil for 2 minutes in a small saucepan and cooled. Leftover syrup can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 month)
90ml white peach puree (peel peaches, remove pit and puree in a blender with a small amount of water)
Fresh peaches, oranges and apples, slicedPlace all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to mix. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve over ice.
- Food NetworkRECIPE: WHITE SANGRIA
3 tablespoons sugar
3 shots Calvados or other apple liquor
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
3 ripe green apples, seeded and cut into wedges
1 bottle white rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine
1 pint raspberries
Soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table
Combine sugar, Calvados, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja wine and chill sangria for several hours.To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, then pour wine over the fruit. Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve.
- Food NetworkRECIPE: SPICY SANGRIA
Makes about 6 glasses
This white spicy sangria has a definite kick, and is thus not for those who prefer a milder, more mellow version of the refreshment. Imbibe accordingly, and have plenty of iced water on hand.3-3/4 cups dry white wine
3 tablespoons brandy
2 small red chilies, seeded and quartered
2 medium tart green apples, diced
2 large yellow plums, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
1 cup sodaCombine all the ingredients, except for the soda, in a large serving pitcher, mixing well. Refrigerate overnight. Immediately before serving, mix in the club soda for added fizz. Serve over ice.
- Spain-recipes.comRECIPE: PARTY SANGRIA
1 bottle of red wine (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, rioja, zinfandel, shiraz)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons sugar
Splash of orange juice or lemonade
2 shots of gin or triple sec (optional)
1 cup of raspberries or strawberries (may use thawed or frozen)
1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
4 cups ginger ale
Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice from the lemon, orange and lime wedges into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds) and pineapple, then add sugar, orange juice and gin or triple sec. Chill overnight.Add ginger ale, berries and ice just before serving. If you'd like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice.
- allrecipes.comRECIPE: NON-ALCOHOLIC SANGRIA
4 cups cranberry-grape juice
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pear, diced
1 apple, diced
3 cups carbonated lemon-lime beverage
In a large pitcher, combine cranberry-grape juice, orange juice, fresh lemon juice, diced pear and diced apple. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.Just before serving, stir in the lemon-lime soda and some ice.