Cooking School

Yum! Making perfect sangria

Cava Sangria <br />Photography by Ryan Szulc/TC Media Image by: Cava Sangria <br />Photography by Ryan Szulc/TC Media Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Yum! Making perfect sangria

This week, as we haul out the patio furniture and fire up the barbecue, our thoughts turn to summer cocktails and sangria.

Sangria is a refreshing Spanish wine punch that is popular on restaurant patios and back decks around the world. It is essentially a blend of wine, spirits and fruit served with ice. Yet every bartender (and most of our friends) have their own version, so it's hard to pin down an actual recipe.

Though there are thousands of opinions on the the right way to make it, it's agreed that the success of sangria depends on the quality of the ingredients. Sangria should really just be refreshing, inexpensive and fun. So, grab your favourite $15 (or less) bottle of wine, some ripe fruit and let's experiment.

Tips on making great sangria:
• Since wine is the dominant ingredient, it should be something you like. For authentic flavour, use a Spanish red such as Gran Sangre de Toro (a ripe and fruity blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah grapes) or Osborne Solaz (a Tempranillo and Cabernet blend with lots of oak.) Traditional sangria is perfect with food, especially grilled meats and vegetables and strong cheese.

• Though sangria was originally made with red wine, the cava (sparkling wine) -producing regions of Spain soon adapted their own white versions called sangria blanco. These are excellent choices with seafood and brunch dishes.

• Citrus is very refreshing and ripe, seasonal fruit adds exceptional flavour. During the summer, local fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and plums make lovely additions and enhance similar flavours in the wine. For white and cava sangria, do as they do in the south of Spain and add nectarines and peaches. Be sure to adjust the amount of sugar to the sweetness of the fruit and let it sit for several hours to allow the flavours to develop and blend.

• While brandy is the more traditional choice, liqueurs such as Triple Sec or Cointreau are popular because they add sweetness to the blend. Since vodka is a neutral spirit, only use it to increase the alcohol of very fruit juice-heavy blends.

• Adding a splash of soda water to taste is a good way to lighten the alcohol and add a touch of effervescence. Lemon-lime sodas or ginger ale are also popular additions but tend to mask the wine's flavour. We prefer using sparkling wine for bubbly sangria.

• Choose a pitcher that is large enough to hold a bottle (750 mL) of wine. Serve with a spoon for occasional stirring and preventing too much fruit and ice from tumbling into your glass.

Here's our favourite recipe. Salud!

Perfect Sangria
Quarter, then thinly slice and seed 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange and 1 apple or peach into pitcher; add 1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar and a generous pinch of salt. Stir. Let stand for at least 1 hour. Add 1/4 cup (50 mL) brandy. Stir in 1 bottle (750 mL) of wine, slightly mashing the fruit. Let stand for 30 minutes. Add lots of ice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Did you know?
Sangria was introduced to North America in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1964 New York's World Fair.

Looking for recipes? Try one of these:

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Cooking School

Yum! Making perfect sangria

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