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

Satisfying Summer Cocktails

Watermelon Punch

Watermelon Punch

3 cups seeded watermelon, cut into small squares

1 1/2 cups white vermouth

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 cups crushed ice

Put watermelon, vermouth, and sugar in a blender, processing until liquified. Add ice and process for three seconds more. Pour into chilled glasses, garnishing with a small watermelon slice.

Cherry Mojitos

Cherry Mojitos

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups fresh squeezed lime juice

3 lbs. cherries

18-oz. black cherry or plain vodka

1 750 ml bottle sparkling water.

Bring sugar and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Squeeze lime juice into a bowl, adding cherries (halved and pitted). Stir in the sugar syrup and chill for an hour. Put into a serving bowl and stir in vodka. Fill serving glasses with ice half-full and top with sparkling water to taste.

Cucumber Cooler

Cucumber Cooler

2 quarts water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

1 cucumber, cut into slices, skin-on, ends removed

Combine water, sugar, and lime juice and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour into a blender and add the cucumber, processing until smooth. Chill. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Garnishes: They Make the Drink

A nice, dressed-up cocktail always seems to be enjoyed more than a drab-looking, naked glass.  It’s more appealing to the eye, subconsciously making the customer more excited about drinking the beverage.

Think about it.  Would a martini really be a martini without the olives?  How about a strawberry daiquiri without the added fresh strawberries?  No, not at all.

Without the addition of lemon twists, pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries, and celery stalks, mixed drinks just would not be complete.

There are also the inedible garnishes that add a particular wow-factor to a drink: paper cocktail umbrellas, colorful drinking straws, flowers, bead necklaces during Mardi Gras, and swizzle sticks.

Both edible and inedible garnishes compliment the actual drink.  They add character and style.