Spanish Sangria: Fresh, Fruity, and Fun

Sangria is a Spanish drink, made traditionally with red wine mixed with brandy and fresh fruits. While sangria is traditionally red, other variations exist, including white (Sangria Blanco), sparkling (Cava), and Zurra (peachy sangria from the South of Spain). Perfect for social gatherings, sangria is a drink that is both widely satisfying and enjoyed. Focusing on the traditional red, this is a complete guide to creating a pleasantly refreshing Spanish sangria at home.

STEP 1: CHOOSING THE INGREDIENTS

Focusing on the traditional, there is no definitive recipe for the Spanish wine punch; however, choosing a favorable foundation, a well-mannered dry red wine makes all the difference.  Although many say to go inexpensive, as the brandy and fruit will mask the cheapness of the wine, for a respectable sangria to be made, a step-up from box wine would be favorable.  True, not wasting money on the most expensive wines are excellent advice, and although it may be made with the cheapest, middle-of-the-road produces a richer taste.

“Dry red wine” covers a vast variety, and while many would fair well with a sangria recipe, there are a handful that go above the rest.  Keeping with sangria’s culture, Rioja, a Spanish wine, maintains the authentic taste; however, Merlot, a Red Zinfandel, or Pinot Noir are a couple rich alternatives that are widely available.

When choosing a Brandy to pair, middle class is best.  Choosing both a commendable wine and brandy provides the most desirable flavor.  For example, Christian Bros. VSOP is a nicer version of the bottom shelf Christian Bros. VS.  Looking to keep with the Spanish lineage, Fundador is a respectable pick.

STEP 2: THE RECIPE

Subtle sweetness, paired with the tartness of red wine, the following recipe produces a variation of the wine punch for those whose pallet prefers fruity and sweet, a punch without the overwhelming bite of alcohol.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • (1) 750 ml bottle red wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 3 cups ginger ale
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • (2) lemons
  • (2) limes
  • (1) orange
  • (1) package strawberries

Directions:

  1. In a large pitcher, mix together the brandy, triple sec, and red wine.  Add the lemon juice, orange juice, lemonade concentrate, and sugar.
  2. Cut one of the lemons and limes, and the orange, into thin rounds.  Cut the package of strawberries into quarters.  Float in mixture.
  3. For best results, chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Before serving, add the ginger ale.
  5. Cut the remaining lemon and lime into rounds and use as glass decorations.

STEP 4: THE PRESENTATION

The presentation of a pitcher of sangria is just as powerful as its taste. Traditionally, sangria is served in a pitcher with a pinched lip so that the fruit and ice does not fall into the individual wine glasses, creating a splash. Many Spanish sangria pitchers are made of pottery and decorated with colorful designs. However, some people enjoy using glass pitchers that display the sangria inside.

Modern Sangria Pitchers

Traditional Sangria Pitchers

Eight Favored Summer Seasonal Beers

Victory Summer Love Ale

A crisp and hoppy blonde ale, a bit bitter, yet oh-so refreshing, Victory Summer Love Ale is a summertime favorite across the country. She has the familiar taste of German pilsner malts, ending with a pop of lemon that stem from American and German whole flower hops. Brewed by the Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA, Victory Summer Love Ale contains 5.2% alcohol by volume. She’s best served in a lager glass, and pairs well with chicken, pizza, and spicy Mexican dishes. If you love bright flavors and citrusy finishes, you’ll fall in love with this Ale. For her complete profile, visit www.victorybeer.com.

Sierra Nevada Kellerwies

Hot summer days call for a classic hefeweizen beer, such as Sierra Nevada Kellerwies, with its smooth malt flavor that is sure to satisfy. With an origin in Chico, CA, Kellerwies pours a frothy head and a hazy amber color, created using the traditional Bavarian-style open fermentation, adding depth and flavor complexity. The beer is best served by pouring two-thirds into a pint glass, swirling gently, and then pouring in the remainder. It’s Perle and Sterling hops and Two-Row Pale, Wheat, and Munich malts make this beer a great companion to a spring garden salad, fresh strawberries, cheese, and German cuisine. For more information on this classic summer beer, please visit www.sierranevada.com.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

First released as a summer seasonal brew in 2008, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale quickly became a fan-favorite, a golden beer to return year after year. The Petaluma, CA brewery describes its Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ as a cross between a wheat beer and an American IPA, brewed with three different types of wheat and Centennial, Cascade, and Citra hops. The hops compliment the apricot, peach, pine, clove, rose petal, and spice flavors absolutely perfectly. The refreshing taste pairs well with anything grilled outside on a warm summer day. For a little Sumpin’ more, visit Lagunitas website at www.lagunitas.com.

Harpoon Summer Beer

A German-inspired Kolsch-style beer brewed in Vermont since 1999, Harpoon Summer Beer is light and refreshing, with a crisp taste. Kolsch ales have characteristics of lager beers but are brewed with an ale yeast, giving it a straw-gold color and mild flavor. Harpoon recommends serving this beer in a small, straight glass—the ones circulated among Koln, Germany’s beer halls. It pairs well with a wide variety of foods, from salads to self-speared seafood. With 5.0% alcohol by volume, it is the perfect refreshment for any summertime activity. Enjoy the outdoors and visit www.harpoonbrewery.com for more information.

Anchor Summer Beer

San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company  has been rolling out its Summer Beer for over 30 years—a tried and true American-style filtered wheat beer. It’s crisp and clean flavors are due to the fact that over 50 percent of its grain bill being malted wheat, which produces a fluffy head of foam and a mild taste. The fermenting process includes ale yeast, which compliments the malted wheat and adds to the light flavor. So enjoy the ocean breeze, kick off your boat shoes, and pop open a cold one. Find out more about this 4.5 percent alcohol by volume beverage at www.anchorbrewing.com.

Saranac Shandy

Looking for a unique summer beer? One unlike any other? Try Saranac Shandy—a mix of a light lager and real lemonade (The kind made with squeezed lemon juice, water, and sugar!).  The New York brewery uses North American Pale Malt to give the beer its golden color, and paired with the lemonade, the beverage is crisp and refreshing with a lemony aroma and sweet taste. It’s the perfect BBQ beverage, pairing well with anything grilled, cheeses, and key lime pie. For more information about this summertime favorite, please visit www.saranac.com.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

Looking for something special to enjoy after dinner, when the sun begins to set? The Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, from Boonville, CA, is a seasonal ale with hints of vanilla and toffee, resembling the taste of cream soda. A copper-colored ale, its smooth, malty, and slightly sweet, with a hint of spice that lingers. Best drunk from a lager glass, it pairs well with dishes containing sweet sauces. It also makes a nice beer float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Never sterile filtered or heat pasteurized, learn more about this 5.0% alcoholic beverage from www.avbc.com.

Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Hey there, now why don’t ya try Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils? From Longmont, CO, it’s a crisp and dry pilsner known for being a beach-bound fave (It also pairs well with light fish!). Little Yella Pils is made in small batches, built with 100 percent pure pale and German malt and Saaz hops. It has a gently hoppy flavor and a low ABV: just 5.3 percent. Take advice from Oskar Blues Mama and relish in the summer weather with some Yella Pils—you won’t regret it. Gotta know more? Visit www.oskarblues.com.

Popular Alcoholic Beverages from Around the World

Each world country has its own unique and traditional alcoholic beverages. Mostly, the beverages serve to represent a cultural aspect of the country, instead of being meant to slip into sloppy drunkenness. The following countries all differ from each other, speaking culture and tradition through beverage history and development.

CANADA

Canucks proudly toast their iced mugs to the ever-popular Canadian beer, Labatt Blue. A pilsner, Labatt Blue has been intertwined with Canadian culture, universally enjoyed by all across the country. The brewery describes it as a “clean, refreshing pilsner with a distinctive hoppy aroma, a delicate character, and a slightly sweet aftertaste.” Founded in 1847 by John Labatt, the Labatt Brewery’s beers quickly became insanely popular throughout the remainder of the 1800s and survived prohibition in the early 1900s. In 1951, Labatt Pilsner, nicknamed “Blue” was introduced and eventually took first place at the World Beer Competition in 1958. In 1979, it became the best-selling Canadian beer in the world. It remains a distinct part of Canadian culture.

Among the most popular mixed drinks in Canada is the infamous “Bloody Caesar.” Invented in Alberta in 1969 by restauranteur Walter Chell, it quickly rose to fame, with over 350 million Bloody Caesars consumed annually in Canada alone. Usually a mixture of vodka, clamato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, there are several variations to the drink. Here is one version:

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. Clamato Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Vodka

    Bloody Caesar

  • 2 dashes Tobasco Sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • Celery Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • A Lemon and a Lime Wedge
  • 1 Crisp Celery Stalk

Directions:

  1. Rim a highball glass with lemon, celery salt, and pepper.
  2. Fill glass with ice.
  3. Add vodka, clamato juice, and a dash of pepper.
  4. Add the Tobasco and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Stir and garnish with a celery stalk and a wedge of lime.

RUSSIA

Green Mark Vodka

The word “vodka” comes from the Russian word “voda,” meaning “water.” Therefore, it is no surprise that it is the national drink of Russia. The top three most popular vodkas in Russia are as follows: Green Label, Putinka, and Five Lakes. Green Label, also known as Green Mark, is a traditional Russian vodka, named after the green quality seal the Soviet government agencies stamped on bottles that underwent strict purity tests. It is made of high quality wheat, naturally farmed yeast, and water that has been purified and softened for thousands of years. Putinka, a vodka separated from the competition by ingenious marketing strategies and a refreshingly smooth taste, is mild in flavor and popular for relaxing with. It has won several awards, including the 2006 national “Product of the Year,” as well as “Superbrand of 2004″ in the vodka category. Five Lakes is known to be the best vodka in Siberia, as it claims to be “as mild as the pure water of the Omsk Oblast Lakes.” It contains actual Siberian water and the purest of grain alcohol, as well as a special mineral complex said to neutralize the negative effects alcohol may have on the body.

The Russians also have a few rules concerning their vodka. First, vodka must be made from grain–no exceptions. Second, vodka is not for cocktails. In order for it to be fully understood, it is to be drunken straight, with no ice, at room temperature. Third, it must be consumed with food, such as a little zakouski or a pickle. Finally, vodka must not be infused with fruit–only pepper, anise, and horseradish are acceptable if done by hand.

However, in recent years, there has been a growing number of Russians beginning to drink beer rather than vodka. In fact, over the past ten years, vodka consumption has dropped by a third and beer consumption has increased by 40 percent. The most popular beer company in Russia is Baltika. The brewery produces several different beers, with Baltika 9 being the most popular of the lot. Established in 1990, it’s strength is achieved through natural fermentation paired with a unique recipe developed by Baltika’s specialist brewers. It won a silver medal at the Superior Taste Awards in Belgium in 2008.

CHINA

Mao-Tai

China’s most infamous drink, Mao-Tai, is named after the small town in which it is produced. Always served at governmental banquets and family holiday gatherings, Mao-Tai has historically been drunk by those of the artistic professions, believing that enjoying a cup of Mao-Tai before beginning their artistic expression helps to grasp further inspiration. Made from high quality Chinese sorghum, the distiller’s yeast is prepared from wheat, and the water comes from a local spring, all giving Mao-Tai its unique taste. It is distilled and fermented eight times, with the process taking more than eight months. Then, it is aged for three years before being sold. Crystal-clear, Mao-Tai does not leave a burning sensation in the throat, despite its potency.

Yellow Alcohol is also a popular Chinese drink. It was first produced over 4,000 years ago, made from glutinous rice or broomcorn millet and named for it’s amber color. It is traditionally heated in a metal wine pot and served warm, with the belief that warm alcohol is appetizing and good for the stomach. A local custom calls for a few jars of Yellow Alcohol to be purchased at the birth of a child, then stored and sealed in mud until the child’s wedding, when it is served to guests. The aging process gives the drink a refined taste.

JAPAN

Sapporo Beer

Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan. It began in the 17th century, during the Edo Period, when the Dutch opened a beer hall for its sailors working the trade route from Japan to the Dutch Empire, introducing the Japanese to beer. However, the industry didn’t really flourish until the late 1800s, when German-trained brewmaster Seibei Nakagawa founded the Kaitakushi Brewery in Hokkaido, which today brews Sapporo beer, including Sapporo Black Label, Yebisu, Yebisu Black, Hokkaido Nama-Shibori, and more. Other leading Japanese breweries include Asahi, producing Asahi Super Dry and Asahi Black; Kirin, producing Kirin Lager Beer, Kirin Ichiban Shibori, and Kirin Fukkoko Lager; and Suntory, producing Suntory Malts and Super Magnum Dry.

Rice Wine, also known by Sake, is the national alcoholic beverage of Japan. Sake is brewed using rice,

Sake

water, and white koji mold and fully matured before serving. It is said to taste like weak vodka, always drunk straight. It is not meant to get drunk off of, but rather to relax. Sake can either be served hot, room-temperature, or cold, depending upon the preference of the drinker and the season. Hot sake is usually a winter drink; however, the higher quality sakes are not drunk hot as they lose their flavors and aromas when heated. Once opened, the bottle of sake is best drunk within a period of two to three hours.

FRANCE

Cointreau

France is well-known around the world for it’s fine wines and champagne, with more than a dozen wine-making regions, including Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, and Loire. The regions produce both red and white wines, growing a variety of grapes, such as Merlot, Chablis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Wines are labeled after the region and vineyard that produced them, often including the variety of grape used. Some

famous names include Claret, Dom Perignon, and Moet.

France is not only known for it’s wine, however, as they also produce fine-quality liqueurs. Included are Cointreau, a famous triple sec liqueur, Crème De Menthe, a minty liqueur, and a raspberry-based liqueur, Crème De Framboise.

SPAIN

Traditional Sangria Jug

Wine is also a popular drink in Spain, with the best cultivated from the Rioja region. The Spanish often drink their wine as Sangria, which is red or white wine mixed with cut fruit, or as Calimocho, red wine mixed with Coca-Cola.

Beer is also well-liked in Spain, with the most popular brewery being Mahou, S.A. In 1890, the children of a French entrepreneur founded Hijos de Casimiro Mahou in Madrid. In 1957, the company became known as Mahou, S.A. Beers brewed include Mahou Negra, San Miguel 1516, San Miguel ECO, Alhambra Especial, Alhambra Reserva 1925, Mezquita, Alhambra Premium Lager, and more.

Spain is also the origin of sherry and brandy. Sherry is a fortified white wine made from the

Spanish Sherry

white grapes of the town of Jerez. In fact, all bottles labeled as “Sherry” must come from the “Sherry Triangle” in Spain, an area between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. Spanish brandy is a distillate based on sherry, and are heavier and sweeter than those of France. Popular Spanish brandies include Osborne, Soberano, Fundador, and 103.