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Monday, June 29, 2009

White Sangria (mmmm....good!)

The first time I ever saw sangria was at a Spanish restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennslvania in 1994 (ish). Yes, Pittsburgh had one Spanish restaurant in the 1990's, and by golly, my honors Spanish class was going there for dinner. I felt really fancy in my flower-print rayon dress and suburban mall hair because we were going out to dinner with our class and then over to Carnegie Mellon University to watch the drama program's production of Bodas de Sangre (literal translation: Blood Wedding). On a side note, if you have never watched a play by any of the Spanish dramatists of the early 20th century, they are full of blood, lust, incest, abuse and of course, the power of love to triumph over it all - sort of like a typical day over at TMZ.com.

Back to my story. All of us teenagers were sitting around eating our paella like good little girls and boys and the teachers were off at a table by themselves (with good reason). Then their waiter brings them one of the most scandalous-looking drinks that my little uninitiated eyes had ever seen. A pitcher of this ruby red goodness comes by, frosty cold and full of luscious pieces of apples, peaches and pears floating in it. I asked what it was and I was told it was sangria.

Cue angels singing, light shining down from heaven and the feeling of being wrapped in a heavenly cocoon.

Sangria literally means "bloody" or "bleeding" and the name is derived from the color of the drink. There are as many variations of sangria recipes in Spain as there are variations of marinara recipes in Italy or sweet tea recipes in the South. Just like the best foods that have no strict recipe, sangria varies according to your personal preference. Some like it sweet, some like it more tart. Some people like it without carbonation (I am not one of those people). I have only three hard and fast rules:

1. Use a decent wine that you would drink on its own. I think the fruitier wines like Cabernets and Chardonnays go really well without being overpowering in their dry-ness.

2. Use fresh fruit that actually smells like the fruit (hence why I rarely make this outside of summer).


3. For God's sake, use plenty of ice. An otherwise perfectly good drink can be ruined without enough ice. It's like drinking lukewarm milk - not unhealthy but it certainly makes you gag a little.

Here is my go-to recipe for white sangria. BTW, if that picture doesn't scream "summer in a glass", I don't know what does.

White sangria
  • 750 mL bottle of white wine - I like Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
  • 2 cups of white grape juice or white cranberry juice
  • A couple shots of peach schnapps
  • Sliced summer fruit of your choice - really good summer peaches, blackberries and raspberries are really pretty with this
  • Club soda
Mix in a pitcher with lots of ice and garnish glasses with a peach.

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The beauty of sangria is that it is a very forgiving sort of drink. If you want to make it stronger, you can toss in a 1/2 cup of brandy, Cointreau or triple sec without messing it up. Also, for entertaining purposes (if you have the self control) you can let it sit in the fridge for a few hours up to overnight so that all of the flavors can really blend together. Of course, in our house this would be gone in no time. Just saying.

4 comments:

Melissa said...

Look delicious!

Amy said...

While I agree with rule #1, sometimes it isn't practical. I remember going to parties during my study abroad in Spain when the Sangria for the party was made in a big rubbermaid tub. (Seriously) With that kind of quantity, you have to find the best tasting wine in box that you can afford. ;-)

cCe said...

I drink this once a year it this weekend is it! My mother-in-law makes it for me every 4th of July. Thanks for reminding me what is in my near future!!

Katie said...

OMGosh YUM that looks sooooo good!

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