Posts Tagged ‘potent potables’

Ah, it’s just the right time of late Spring here in the San Fernando Valley;  it’s warm enough to enjoy sitting outside and making our first dips into the pool without fear of hypothermia without the roasting triple-digit temperatures that are looming around the corner.  Here, at El Rancho Destructo, it means it’s time to break out that Spanish libation:  Sangria.

Dressing up wine is a long-honored tradition:  the Greeks and the Romans often blended wine with honey and spices which later came to be known as Hippocras in Medieval texts.  In Spain, it evolved to be a wine punch, served informally, sweetened with sugar or honey, flavored with fruit, fortified with brandy or triple sec, and lightened with carbonated water or ice.  There’s a thousand recipes out there, but I haven’t found one that comes close to the one I came up with about ten years ago.  Arrogant?  Maybe.  But it’s darn good Sangria.  Best part?  It’s pretty easy, too.

The most work you’ll really have to put into making this punch is making simple syrup.   Why make simple syrup?  You know what happens when you dump a spoonful of sugar into a glass of iced tea, right?  We’re avoiding the problem by creating a sweetener that will easily blend in the pitcher without having the issue of all the sugar falling to the bottom–it’s really the professional way to sweeten cocktails.  All you need to do is combine equal amounts of water and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.  That’s it.  Sure, it’s one extra step, but I like to make a large batch to keep in an airtight container–it keeps for a long time, and it’s always there whether I want to make Sangria, or a batch of Lemonade (it’s perfect for that), or Mojitos when I’m feeling sassy.

As for your wine, Sangria is traditionally made with wines from Rioja, from Tempranillo or Grenache grapes, but any fruity, acidic wines will work well such as a Gamay or a Lambrusco.  One last note:  don’t spend more than $7 for a bottle of wine that’s being used for Sangria–you don’t need a great wine for it, since you’ll be mixing it with so much that any special characteristics in a pricy bottle of wine will be lost.  Remember, this is really an informal drink, to be enjoyed sitting outside with friends on a happy warm day;  it’s not a drink for contemplation like a big Napa Red.


  • 1 (750 mL)  bottle of fruity red wine
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup Triple Sec or orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau
  • The juices of 2 oranges, 2 lemons and 2 limes
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 2 cups chilled Club Soda

Combine wine, simple syrup, Triple Sec, fruit juices and sliced oranges in a large pitcher, and chill for one hour.  Just before serving, stir in club soda and add ice if desired.

For a lovely variation for late summer, try a Sangria Blanca, trading the red wine for a crisp, fruity white wine like an Albariño, and adding peaches or nectarines and raspberries.  ¡Que Sabroso!


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