For your next party, instead of having wine and beer, consider stepping up your game by setting out pitchers of Sangria. The wine-based drink is surging in popularity and isn’t just red wine with fruit anymore.
Sangria is a mix of wine, sweetener, fruit, juice, and brandy native to Spain and Portugal. The drink is a crowd pleaser and often seen at outdoor parties where it is served chilled. Sangria is an excellent drink to serve when entertaining and can be made several ways. Once you understand the basics your imagination is the limit. Be sure to comment with your favorite Sangria mix or one of ours you’d like to try!
When you break down a typical sangria there are four basic components.
Wine: While red is considered the only way to go by purists, many bars and restaurants now offer the additional choices of white and sparkling sangria. They’re easy enough to make that you can have three different kinds of Sangria at your next party. When selecting a wine you’ll want something that is fruit forward and nicely acidic, but low tannin. You should consider a wine you would drink on its own rather than using a bottle of plonk and throwing fruit in it to make it drinkable. It will still taste like plonk.
Sweetener: While fruit and some wines are sweet, a good Sangria also includes an additional sweetener. White sugar can be used but consider that it is difficult to dissolve in cold liquids. If white sugar is your sweetener of choice make a simple syrup and use that – it will stay clear and grit free. Other choices include agave, honey, or for the perfect autumnal Sangria consider something bold like maple syrup or molasses. Some specialty shops carry flavored molasses, like pomegranate. Sparkling sangria with pomegranate? Yes, please!
Fruit: Chopped up fruit is an important part of your sangria. Consider citrus, apples, grapes, melon, berries and exotic fruits like kiwi and pineapple. Fruit, except for berries and grapes, should be skinned and chopped. Try to pick fruit that will enhance the flavor of the wine for the best sangria. For white consider citrus. For red try apples, including tart ones. When making a sparkling sangria keep it simple with berries.
Brandy: The oft missed ingredient in Sangria is brandy. Many assume that because brandy is wine it’s unnecessary. Also, because a sweetener is used they worry about making it too sweet however a slightly acidic wine helps cut the sweetness and keep the drink balanced with a good complexity. Consider using triple sec for a nice citrus flavor along with a light rum or brandy.
Juice: Keep it simple with lemon or orange, or have a little fun with pomegranate or another unique flavor. The juice should complement the rest of your Sangria, not take it over, so don’t go too crazy.
Sangria should inspire you to experiment. Consider throwing in a mixer. Make your red sangria sparkle by adding soda water (avoid tonic – the quinine taste will not complement your masterpiece) or lemon-lime soda. For an interesting twist use tea, citrus ade, or another light beverage.
Be sure to garnish your sangria with something that complements its overall flavor. Did you go spicy? Toss a few jalapenos around the pitcher. Did you make that autumnal one with maple syrup? Cinnamon sticks make the perfect garnish. Garni should provide both an aesthetic quality, give a hint to the flavors and provide a boost of flavor should someone find some of it in their drink. Got a sweet tooth? Consider candy sticks as stirrers in your drink for a cute twist.
When it’s time to experiment use the following as a starting point for making one pitcher. Once you’ve got your basic recipe down, feel free to play with the amounts to develop the perfect sangria.
Start with a pitcher with a little more than half filled with ice and a long spoon or other instrument that is long you can use to stir.
After adding the sweetener, refrigerate for as long as you wish – most recommend over night. To serve, fill a cocktail glass halfway with ice and then top off with Sangria and your perfect garnish. Enjoy!