For the longest time, I had turned up my nose at the sangria thinking is was a great way to ruin a perfectly good bottle of wine. Little did I realize that a well-made sangria could be both delicious and satisfying during the sweltering months of summer. They’re crisp and full of juicy flavor, making them the perfect mixed drink to bring to BBQs and other summer get-togethers.
Believe it or not, a sangria can actually SAVE a bad bottle of wine. Who knew!? In fact, you don’t even need a “good” bottle of wine to make a good sangria. You can even just pick up a few bottles of two-buck-chuck and call it good!
Now, I can’t even imagine a summer holiday without a pitcher of this refreshing, fruity, beautifully red cocktail.
The Perfect Summer Sangria
I admit it, I’ve been converted! Sangria is one of my favorite summer drinks now that I’ve learned that there truly is no “right” way to make. I’d go as far to say that there’s infinite ways to make sangria that will match every occasion, so let your inspiration flow!
However, here’s a basic guide to get you started:
The Basics of Sangria Making
1. Pick Your Wine and Liquor
Since sangria goes down easy, a good rule of thumb is to buy a cheap bottle of red wine for every 2 people and you’re good to go! The trick here too is not to splurge on pricy wine, save the complex bottles for enjoyment on their own.
For a sangria, you want to shoot for a red medium bodied wine. A good one to go with is Garnacha or any other Spanish red. I personally really like my zinfandels so that’s what I use.
Next, you’re going to need hard alcohol or liqueur. I tend to lean more on the liqueur side of things, so I stick with Cointreau (orange liqueur), but you can certainly use other booze like gin, brandy, or cognac. I recommend using ¼ cup of liqueur for every bottle of wine used or ½ cup for hard alcohol.
2. Choose a Sweetener
I’m a huge fan of going as natural as possible when choosing a sweetener. I often find sangrias at restaurants or the premade versions to be sickly sweet. To curb this possibility, I don’t use sugar, stevia, or any other alternative sweeteners. Instead, I use 100% fruit juice to get the job done and it does it nicely.
I highly recommend pomegranate juice as it’s naturally sweet, but if you want more tang, try adding tart cherry juice instead.
If you have to add sugar, make a simple syrup using organic cane sugar.
3. Choose and Prepare the Fruit
This is really where things can get exciting! You can add pretty much any fruit you desire. I particularly like ripe juicey berries, but you can also use apples, oranges, peaches, lemon, pears, plums, pineapple, etc.
I recommend choosing two main fruits, but I’ve been known to use quite a few more. It’s a sangria after all, anything goes! Just make sure the fruit has good flavor.
4. Mix and Chill
This is an essential step for making a good sangria, so don’t skip it! Simply add all the fruit, wine, and liqueur/hard alcohol to a large pitcher, mix well, and pop it in the fridge to meld and chill for at least 4 hours.
Taste the sangria to see if it’s sweet enough. If it isn’t, now’s the time to add a bit more of your sweetener of choice.
5. Serve Over Ice, With Bubbles, or With Both!
Now it’s time to serve! Not all sangrias are carbonated, but I have to say they’re darn tasty that way! Carbonation gives it a nice refreshing feel on hot summer days, but you can certainly serve it over ice, or even with both ice and carbonated water.
You could even use a sparkling white wine to do the job or a delicious homemade lemon-lime soda.
My version of sangria has just the right sweetness (I find a lot of sangria recipes to be awfully sweet) as it uses 100% pomegranate juice and fresh ripened berries to give it a delicious juicy flavor.
Here’s what you need to make my version of the perfect summer sangria:
• 1 bottle red wine (I like zinfandel)
• ½ quart 100% pomegranate juice (gives the perfect sweetness!)
• ¼ cup Cointreau (this gives the sangria a delicious orange kick)
• 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used fuji)
• 1 orange, peeled and sliced
• 1 pint fresh blackberries
• 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
• A splash of carbonated water if desired
• A large pitcher
This recipe serves 2-3 people.
Loving Preparation – The Perfect Summer Sangria
1. Put the pomegranate juice and the bottle of wine in the fridge to chill while you prepare the fruit.
2. Once everything is sliced, add the fruit to a large pitcher. Feel free the bruise the fruit to extract more flavor.
3. Next, add the bottle of wine, the pomegranate juice, and the Cointreau.
4. Use a long utensil to mix well.
5. Pop the sangria back in the fridge and chill for as long as possible, at least for 4 hours but preferably 24 hours. Don’t worry though, this sangria is perfectly delicious as soon as it’s thrown together. However, if you can let it sit for a bit, the fruit flavors will deepen.
6. Serve chilled with a splash of carbonated water if desired.
What has been your favorite sangria recipe? Please share in the comments below!
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