• two tall glasses of sangriaOh how I love thee let me count the ways… picnics, barbecues, family reunions, cure for leftover bad wine, and did I mention picnics?
    As a wine drinker aficionado one might say sangria is sacrilegious, but au contraire. I love the fruity concoctions with nearly the same fervor that I love my unadulterated wine. Let’s take a way back machine to a time when I was tasting bottle upon bottle of cheap swill just to find that inexpensive beauty amidst a sea of “ick.” I would be looking for a malbec and receive a case of $10 and under malbecs. This one’s too fat, this one’s to skinny, this one has seen too much oak, this one’s too acidic, and tasting so many bad wines makes you depressed. You begin to think all wine tastes heinous, and you pour so much wine down the drain that you expect the alligators in the sewer are getting drunk and having a party whilst you find yourself sober and sad. So as I like to say–when life gives you a lemon, a jalapeño, an avocado, some chili flakes, a red onion, salt, pepper and some beau monde seasoning. Make guacamole or in this case sangria (substituting bad wine, fruit and brandy for those other things.)

    They will, for every party or outing in the future, make you the designated sangria maker.

    Sangria is a way to make wine that you don’t like palatable and therefore alleviates any guilt you would garner as a result of feeding malnourished alligators (on second thought maybe gift a little from each bottle to them.) I always start with a bottle of cheap brandy (E&J or Christian Brothers) and the juice of a lemon, a lime and about two cups of orange juice. I call this my base. I put it in a pot and leave it in the fridge. The combination of the acid from the citrus, the alcohol from the brandy and the colder temperature of the fridge slows the aging of the wine to a crawl. I then add any leftover wines to the base as the days go by.

    Well my days of tasting cases of bad wine are for the most part behind me, so what do you do when there is no wine to make the sangria? You buy a box of wine. Hopefully you have receptacles to put your finished product in (pitchers, any thing screw cap, etc.) If you do not, then buy cheap screw cap wine instead of a box.

    There is only one problem with making sangria. When you give your friends and family some of the delicious beverage. They will, for every party or outing in the future, make you the designated sangria maker. In fact you will more than likely get calls or texts just asking for more. Believe me.

    The following recipes can be reduced in size exponentially, but I strongly recommend against it. I’m not saying this for purity’s sake, but because no matter how much you make it never seems to be enough.

    Recipe for red:          Makes about 9 or 10 (750mL) bottles

    1 (750mL) bottle of cheap brandy
    1 (3L) box of red wine
    1 (750mL) of white wine to soften the red
    1 (Qt.) of your favorite 100% fruit juice medley
    2 (cups) orange juice (no pulp)
    ~ 1 (cup) agave sweetener or simple syrup (add to taste for desired sweetness)
    1 lime – sliced in wheels
    1 lemon – sliced in wheels
    1 orange – sliced in wheels
    1 apple – cut in slim pieces
    1 pear – cut in slim pieces

    Recipe for white:         Makes about 8 or 9 (750mL) bottles

    1 (750mL) bottle of cheap brandy
    1 (3L) box of white wine (preferably not Chardonnay)
    1 (Qt.) of white cranberry juice based fruit medley (100% juice)
    2 (cans) of lychee in syrup (Asian food section)
    1 lime – sliced in wheels
    1 mini watermelon or 1/3 a regular one – cut into segments without the rind
    1 melon (whichever is your favorite type… honeydew, cantaloupe, etc.) – cut into segments without the rind
    3 kiwis  – sliced in wheels, peeled first
    1 pear – cut in slim pieces
    1 gala or pink lady apple – cut in slim slices

    The recipes are big. I usually need two big pots and then divide the parts equally between the two. If you wish to make the sangria ready to drink that day (normally I suggest a couple of days stewing with the fruit.) You will need to either buy all the fruit in juice format (not suggested) or blend all the fruit into a slush (minus the seeds, skins, rinds and stems.) Add the slush to the wine mix and stir well. Let the mix sit for an hour and then strain into the receptacles. You can also pour the wine/slush mix directly into the bottles and then strain when drinking.

    When serving the sangria, I recommend over ice with a touch of soda or sprite. Garnish with a piece of fruit and enjoy.

    – Jonathan Hood