You’ve most probably heard of it, and odds are many of you have had one at least once in your life. You might think it’s one of those fancy things that you only get in restaurants and gastro-bars, but I’m here to tell you that the best Sangria in the world is the one made in your own kitchen.
And it’s easy to make, too.
But what is a Sangria?
To put it in the simplest terms possible, it’s a drink made with wine, fruit, and anything else you want to add to it.
It originated in Spain – the word is actually derived from “sangre”, which means “blood”. This was an allusion to the red wine that they used to make it – although nowadays, they are made with all styles of wine.
This is best enjoyed in a pitcher – this drink really shines when you make it in large quantities. Don’t worry though – it doesn’t generally last long. It’s also amazing for parties – make it a few hours in advance and just leave it to chill while you wait for your guests.
It’s also a great change from the usual juices or colas that you’d normally offer someone. I like to think of Sangria as the beer of the wine world. Not meant to be complex, or sipped slowly and experienced – but refreshing, delicious, and “pour me another, please?”
The true beauty of Sangria, however, comes from its sense of individuality. You can really express yourself with a Sangria you make on your own – and it’s just an added bonus that they’re so easy to make.
Let’s break down the basics of a Sangria, so you realise how amazingly simple they are.
You need –
1) A wine. Any wine.
Both dry and sweet work great, depending on what you plan to add to it later. It doesn’t pay to use a very expensive, complex wine, because those flavours are going to be lost anyway.
If you want a white Sangria (my preferred style), you can use a Charosa Sauvignon Blanc from Nashik for a dry style, or a Sula Dia for something sweeter.
You can also mix both of them to get a more balanced product. The combined 1500ml from both bottles will set you back by about Rs. 850. That’s a pretty good deal.
Indian reds are a bit tricky for Sangria, but a Sula Zinfandel or Merlot/Malbec should make a pretty good base. You don’t want anything too strong or heavy, it will interfere with the other flavours.
Rosé Sangria is becoming increasingly popular as a summer drink. Everything about Rosé screams young, fresh, and happy – Zampa’s Syrah Rosé is an excellent, affordable option.
You can mix and match any of these wines as you please. Rosé and white wines are a great combination – a white mixed with a little bit of light red wine can taste amazing as well.
2) Fruit. Any fruit.
The unspoken rule generally says “one citric, one non-citric”, so oranges and apples are a very popular combination. But you can add whatever takes your fancy. I once helped to make mango based Sangria, and it was delicious.
You can add lemons, peaches, pineapples, strawberries, and even guavas (they go very well with a wine like Sauv Blanc).
Cut them up into bite-sized pieces, slices, or huge chunks – the choice is yours. Most people prefer small cubes of fruit that soften quickly, and are easy to bite into.
When using oranges, it’s usually best to slice them whole. Orange rind contains a lot of amazing flavours, and Sangria really benefits from it. The half-moon shaped slices of orange are the most common, because they look amazing, contribute bags of flavour, and are great fun to bite into.
3) The fun stuff.
Who says that the only alcohol in a Sangria should be wine? Abroad, it’s quite a common practice to blend in some brandy or a super flavourful liqueur, like Cointreau.
It’s not limited to just that, either. Depending on what you have lying around the house, or are willing to spend on for the added fun, you can add vodka, gin, white rum, tequila, Campari, vermouth… I can go on. And so can you.
4) Other stuff.
Wine and fruit is really pretty much it – the rest all depends on what you have around the house, and what you feel like putting in.
- Sugar, if necessary. Castor sugar works best, but table sugar works fine as well, it just takes a little more stirring. You’ll want this if you’re using a dry style of wine.
- Roasted cinnamon and cloves make a great addition.
- Leaves and herbs, like mint, basil, rosemary, and even coriander, can add a very surprising fresh element to it.
- In addition to whole fruits, you can also add fruit juices. For obvious reason I prefer to juice the fruits at home, but packaged juices work just fine. Adding a packaged mixed-fruit juice could make it a little more complex and fun.
- Whole cherries add a completely new spin on Sangria. You can choose to crush them a little, to make them easier to eat – or just bite right into them and let all that flavour explode in your mouth.
5) Ice. This isn’t essential if you chill it enough, but just seeing the ice floating in the pitcher makes you a little more desperate to try it. It’s also a great way to add volume if you’re missing out on other stuff – but be careful not to add to much, or you risk diluting it.
Now it’s a party drink! You want to add the bubbles to the Sangria right before you serve it, or it’ll go flat. Again, the sheer choice is almost overwhelming, because there are so many amazing things you can add to it.
- Simple soda. There is no reason this won’t work. It’s delicious, affordable, and it has a neutral flavour that won’t mess with the other things you’ve added.
- Colas like Sprite and 7Up. These are universal mixers. They add bubbles, sweetness, and a nice bit of flavour. If you have any lemons cut up in the Sangria, these will meld together beautifully.
- Tonic water. This is the same stuff that goes into your Gin and Tonic. This is fitting if gin is part of your Sangria – but it tastes great even if it isn’t.
- Sparkling wine. One level higher on the complexity scale. A sweet sparkling wine like Prosecco could be a great final touch to a Sangria. This is more expensive, but a more rewarding addition.
- Beer?! I felt great for a second, because I thought I was the first one to think of it, but no luck there. Beer actually makes a great addition, adding bubbles, colour, and a pleasantly bitter taste that fuses with the rest quite well. I shall experiment with this and post my findings here.
That’s it for this week. Now that you know the basics, go ahead and make your own unique Sangria recipe. If you already have, please send me a message, I’d love to hear about it! I might learn something new myself. 🙂
Until next time, adieu!