THE BOOZE BIN
By Rosalie Morton (@rosaliemo)
Can you believe we are approaching the end of the summer? Sept. 21 to be exact.
Summer can’t come to an end without a nod to the summer staple, sangria.
It hasn’t always been like this. Sangria has surged in popularity in the past five years. For a long time it was viewed as the “bastard stepchild” of wine, according to Andrew Knowlton, associate editor of Bon Appetit. Too sweet and too sticky.
Sangria isn’t your average summer beverage. Unlike summer restaurant creations that involve watermelon puree and 21-day Svedka soaked pineapple slices, sangria is simple, refreshing and easily tailored – just choose some of the freshest fruit found at your local farmer’s market the day before.
So, a bit of history: Americans first tasted sangria at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York – “Spanish World” area served it to patrons. It was all downhill from there. Too much sugar made the beverage too sweet, giving sangria a bad name.
Sangria, which means “bleeding” in Spanish, is named for its rich color. It comes from the Latin word, sanguis, meaning blood. Spain was planted with vineyards by the Romans in about 200 BC. Soon after, they started actively trading, and much of Spain’s wines went to Rome. The red grapes grown in the area were phenomenal, as was the wine. The Romans added fruit and spices, creating a punch, and the first version of sangria was born.
Sangria became popular throughout Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. In fact, Jane Austen writes of a popular red wine punch made with a Claret base.
Originally sangria was made with red wine and citrus fruits. However, in recent years, white sangria has become more and more popular as a more refreshing version.
For a traditional, red sangria, start with a Spanish wine – Tempranillo is a great choice. The secret to excellent sangria is that distilled beverage “kick.” The wine needs to be fortified, since it will be diluted a bit. A bit of Spanish brandy or sherry is a good choice for traditional red sangria. Some sugar. Then, lemons, oranges, apples (peels on!).
The key to today’s popular sangria is that it’s balanced – don’t add sugar and orange liqueur – it will be too
sweet. “You should be able to taste everything that goes into it,” according to cocktail historian David Wondrich in a Bon Appetit pod cast.
Much like trendy handcrafted cocktails, bartenders and chefs are putting their own spin on sangria.
Looking for something different to end your summer? Check out this Sake Sangria from Chef Josh DeChellis:
1 cup of vodka
1 cup of sugar
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 large Granny Smith apple, halved, seeded and cubed
1 asian pear, halved, seeded and cubed
1 15-ounce can lychees, drained
1/4 pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 750-ml bottles chilled Sauvignon Blanc
1 750-ml bottle chilled Junmai sake
Instructions: Mix first 7 ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and let stand for 4 hours at room temperature. Mix in wine and sake. Fill glasses with ice and ladle sangria over.
What’s your favorite summer Sangria recipe?