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sangria

During the summer, a refreshing drink of choice is sangria.  It’s lighter than plain wine, filled with fresh fruit and fun to look at.  Sangria is a drink that generally consists of wine (used as a base), chopped fruit, brandy and a sweetener. One can see that it is enjoyed all around the world.   So where does sangria come from and what’s the history?

Photo Credit via Flickr TheCulinaryGeek

Lets explore the history a little. Because of the dark red color, sangria comes from the Spanish word “sangre” which means blood.  Perhaps vampires enjoy this drink too as well as the living?  This tasty drink is usually served throughout Spain and Portugal during the hot summer months. The way it’s served is in a simple punchbowl at informal social gatherings.  An interesting tidbit, during the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964, sangria made its debut in the Spanish Pavillion.  Who would have known?

worlds fairPhoto Credit via Flickr PLCjr

There’s no one recipe for sangria.  Many variations are out there but the general ingredients are simple and the method to make it extremely easy.  Just the way I like it.

Here are the basics:

Wine

Many types of wine can be used, white or red.  The white versions are known as “sangria blanca”.  Mulled wine can also be used for sangria.  One good wine to try is a Rioja since it’s from Spain and can give your drink an authentic taste. If you can’t find Rioja, a Cabernet or a Bordeaux would be nice a substitution.

Fruit

The types of fruits used can be endless for sangria.  It depends on the flavor you’re looking for.  I would say the guideline for using fruit depends on whether you are using white or red wine.  For white wine, fruits such as peaches, nectarines, melons, oranges and kiwis seem to be compatible.  As for red wine, fruits such as cherries, strawberries, grapes and blueberries seem in order.  There is no one way to do this. Experiment and see what happens!  For a bit of a twist, a few slices of ginger can be thrown in.

Liqueur

Sometimes a little “kick” is needed for sangria.  A safe bet is a splash of brandy.  If you want a fruit flavored liqueur, Grand Marnier or a triple sec (both orange flavored) is satisfactory.

Sweetener

A touch of honey, sugar and/or orange juice can be used, but not too much!

Chop the fruit, mix with wine, brandy, sweetener and let it sit overnight so the flavors can meld and become good friends with each other.  The next day, put the mixture in a big pitcher with some garnish (maybe mint?) and serve in ice filled glasses.  Serve chilled of course.

There you go, enjoy the unofficial drink of summer!

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