Today’s Cocktail U project is not for the faint of heart. This brew is potent. In order to balance last week’s crackers, which were as basic as they come, we needed a beverage that said, “WHAM! I’m here!”
Wine — a natural fit for cheese and crackers — had to figure into our cocktail. A wine connoisseur I am not, but I do like my red blends. And with summer approaching here in the Northern Hemisphere, our project this week had to be sangria.Though. Sangria had long intimidated me. While happy to share pitchers with friends at restaurants or parties, I’d never dared make this Spanish sipper at home. It all seemed so complicated: Combine bottles of wine with other booze, cut lots of fruit into small pieces, stir fruit into booze, steep. Might as well make fruit salad for all the effort and sip a favorite wine while you do.But then a friend mentioned she always has a pitcher of sangria chilling during summer months. Seemed like a lot of work, I offered. She countered that it’s as simple as pouring a bottle of wine into a pitcher and tossing in whatever fruit is on hand. It was an “ah ha” moment on my end. That was simple. I could do that.
Not exactly a case of “anything goes,” sangria is loosely defined.
There’s plenty of room to play. Rose would make for a lighter drink. Ice cubes make it possible to go back for more. I’ve also read about grilling fruit (rhubarb included!) before adding to the wine.
Experimenting, I’ve found I like adding a splash of Port wine for the sweet, deep flavor it offers. I’ve yet to add a sweetener, though a bit of sugar would be lovely. The last batch got a few peeled gingerroot chunks in addition to apples and strawberries and I like the spice it added.Always happy to pour myself that first glass after giving things a stir, I found that sangria always tastes better the next day after mellowing and trading flavors with the fruit.
Because there’s no recipe (outside of a bottle of wine, glug or two of Port, cut-up fruit–all over ice), it’s never the same drink. In the end, it’s the wine choice that influences flavor the most. My deeper red blends may not be your idea of summer sipping. So with the crackers, we’ll offer Summertime Sangria. However you choose to make it!