Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Make (or, not make) Sangria

"How to Make (or, not make) Sangria

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Little did I know, after announcing that I’d be bringing a pitcher of sangria to the Tex-Mex dinner party last weekend, that every single person in attendance was recoiling in horror at the thought of having to choke down a big heaping glass of red syrup. But much to their surprise – and my relief – what I showed up to the party with was fruity, spicy, and dry enough to pair with food.

Sangria recipes are like censored old pairs of sneakers: everybody’s got one, and most of them stink. While sangria is nothing more than a lightly sweetened wine-based punch typically consumed during the summer in Portugal and Spain, the garbage you’re going to be served in the average Mexican-American restaurant is syrupy and spiced beyond belief in an attempt to cover up the rank of cheap red wine.

So in an attempt to help promote what can be a delicious summer or fall party beverage, I’m offering up a few tips, with a recipe to follow.

1. Do use an inexpensive, dry yet fruit-forward red wine in your sangria, preferably something from the Rioja region of Spain.

2. Do not think that spending $5 on a bottle of wine is going to yield delicious results.

3. Do use fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice in your sangria.

4. Do not use anything from a box, carton, jar or can in your sangria. If you don’t think you can spare the ten minutes to juice fresh oranges, pick up a six-pack of beer instead.

5. Do use decent-quality orange liqueur in your sangria. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

6. Do not believe anyone who tells you that there is one specific recipe for sangria and that anything else isn’t real. The only requirement to making sangria is that it contains wine. Everything else is based on your personal preference.

7. Do try making your first batch with the following recipe. It’s a solid, basic recipe that you can then play with and make your own.


1 750 ml bottle red wine
¾ cup Grand Marnier
1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 oz 2:1 simple syrup, or 1½ oz 1:1 simple syrup
1 tsp Angostura bitters

Mix ingredients together in a large pitcher. Add pieces of fresh seasonal fruit and serve in goblets over ice. Makes 8 five-ounce servings."

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