Ah, Sangria, one of the quintessential summer beverages. To all of you who have indulged in the sweet nectar that is sangria, you know it can spell trouble. It’s got to be one of the tastiest, easy drankin’ cocktails on the planet (which can lead people to overindulge too quickly), and can be the makings of a Hunter S. Thompson kind of evening if you aren’t careful.
I have been told by many that I make some of the best sangria they’ve ever had, since I whipped up a batch for my brothers birthday today I thought I’d let my Sangria secrets out. I am not a traditionalist; I always play around with sangria. That’s what makes it so fun to make, and drink.
Common Sangria Mistakes:
- Often people make sangria too sweet. It should be sweetened, but I shouldn’t need to visit my friend Andge the Dental hygienist after (who I should mention is the queen of sangria, one time during a game of euchre she drank almost an entire batch to herself, lol)
- Don’t use a sangria mix, it’s already so easy to make. It’s almost as big if a sin as buying packaged guacamole mix, or store bought guacamole (with the unnatural neon green hue, what’s even in that stuff?!)…I never understand those things! Gross. Anyway I digress….
- Too much booze (yes this is a true mistake; you don’t want to be pass out drunk after one glass). Sangria already requires a heavy hand so keep it in check.
Ok, so now for my tried and true formula.
- Wine (Red or White)
*As a tip also you can make sangria with de-alcoholised wine if you don’t drink, or want to take it easy and it tastes really refreshing and amazing.
- Fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, and whatever else you feel like)
- Liquor and/or liqueur (I usually choose 2 types to add) (omit for non alcoholic cocktail)
- Club Soda, or another type of carbonated beverage
- Simple Syrup, agave, superfine sugar, or coconut sugar (in other words a sweetener)
Let’s start with wine. Both Red and white make tasty sangrias, and its fun to play around with ingredients in them. Sangria was invented to cover up the flavour of cheap wine so don’t drop a lot of coin here, but always buy something that you would still drink on its own. I usually go for cheap Italian dry reds and whites (as I find you get more bang for your buck with Italian on the lower end of wine) and I buy in big sizes to accommodate larger groups of people.
You can also choose cask wine (or boxed wine) which has had a bad rap in the past (because it was bad, lol), but now you can get some highly drinkable, decent, even delicious stuff in a box and it lasts for 3-6 weeks for a significant discount. The box technology gets the approval of sommeliers and winemakers all around, and many vintners are being super creative with packaging, you can now buy wines in a box shaped like a purse. See this article here:
I like “Big House” from California. If you live in the states you have a lot more choices than we do in Canada, which seems to be improving as boxed wine becomes more popular. Do some research though; the bad box is still out there.
Then cut up a bunch of fruit. I always use lemons, limes, and oranges, and then whatever else I feel like that day. I added nectarines and red pears today. Divide evenly into a few pitches. I’m using 1.5L of wine today which takes about 3 pitchers.
Choose a type of liquor to add (unless you are making de alcoholised of course) I often go with combinations of 2 depending on what I have on hand. I often choose combinations of:
- Rum (white or dark)
- Flavoured Rums (Malibu, or Spiced)
- Brandy (this is traditional, and amazing with red)
- Grand Marnier, Countreau or Triple Sec
- Peach Schnapps (I know what you’re thinking, that vile substance?! But trust me it’s amazing in white wine sangria)
Anyways the list is endless. Today I used a combo of spiced rum and some homemade limoncello .
Add about 1/8th to ¼ cup of each of your 2 liquors to each pitcher. Then divide the wine evenly between the 3 pitchers.
Ok now for the juice. If you make your own juice that is obviously the best option but for those of us that don’t have time to clean the juicer you can just use a store bought juice. I have an aversion to overly sugary synthetic tasting store bought juices; I usually choose a juice low in sugar. Today I chose a mango/coconut water mix and it worked really amazing! Dark berry juices work better for red Wine, light fruit juices go good with both. Avoid straight up grape juice as you want to add an extra dimension of flavour, not grape on grape action.
Fill the pitchers just over ¾ full with juice to start.
Now you have to do some taste adjustments. Does it need more juice? Does it need to be sweeter? If so add some of that simple syrup or whatever you chose as a sweetener. Be conservative here….we will “re season” after it sits.
The absolute key to good sangria…let it sit. Let all those sexy flavours mingle together, overnight is best but it needs minimum a few hours. Check your sangria and adjust flavourings to taste after this process.
Serve in glasses on ice, and add an inch of club soda or carbonated beverage of your choosing in each glass, or some to each pitcher (just beware of it sitting to long and going flat) Sometimes you can use a fruit flavoured soda which can act as a sweetener (in that case anticipate your sweetness accordingly beforehand)
My last piece of Sangria wisdom; enjoy, and savour it slowly. Resist the urge to “Hoover” it otherwise you might find yourself passed out on a beach talking to an imaginary cloud dog, or any number of other hilarious consequences that you will not thank yourself for tomorrow.