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FRESH and Festive: Sippin’ on Sangria

One of my favorite cocktails, Sangria is a popular, refreshing party drink around the world. Because of the traditional recipe – red wine with orange liqueur or brandy garnished with orange slices – with its dark red hue, many believe that the name sangria is derived from the word “sangre” or “blood” in Spanish. Sangria was first tasted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, quickly gaining popularity throughout the United States.

To me, the traditional recipe can be a bit heavy for summertime and frankly, can get a bit boring. The cool thing with this drink is that you can make it your own by using your favorite wines and fruits. Just be sure that you strike a good balance between the sweet and acidic flavors.

Instead of red wines, try a white or rose. And, while it isn’t necessary to use a nice bottle of wine for sangria, you do need to pick an inexpensive version of a wine that you enjoy drinking. If you don’t like chardonnay by itself, for example, it probably isn’t a good choice for your sangria.

Use plenty of fruit and be creative with what is in season. Also, take into consideration the type of fruit when determining how long to let it soak in the wine. Firmer fruits like pears and apples need a longer soak time (maybe overnight) than fruits like peaches and strawberries.

You can also be creative with the liqueurs that you add. Look for sweet liqueurs or even flavored vodkas to accompany your wine. I recently came across a recipe for pineapple-orange sangria that used Riesling wine and peach vodka. It also had a bit of agave nectar for a little extra sweetness. Sounds pretty tasty!

If you enjoy a little fizz, you can always add club soda, ginger ale, or a splash of sparkling wine when you are ready to serve your sangria. Also, if you need ice, be sure to also add it when you are ready to serve instead of adding it to the pitcher in advance.  You definitely don’t want to water down and take away from the complex flavor of the sangria.

And finally, for a super easy and delicious sangria, pick up a carton of our FRESH Sangria mix in our produce department and mix it with your favorite wine. We have been known to serve up this concoction at reFRESH and the 801 Grill and believe me, it produces smiles every time!