Sangria - Red Wine Cocktail
Whenever people think of Spain, and in particular typical Spanish drinks, they tend to think of Sangria. This red wine mixture has become a typical drink across the country and, although is mostly associated with summer, tends to be found throughout the year, especially in the warmer southern parts of Spain.
Sangria itself is a kind of red wine based punch that is thought to have been created during the 15th century in Spain, however, due to its popularity, the drink spread rapidly to neighbouring Portugal and other Spanish territories. However some people believe that the drink was actually invented in the Antilles in the Caribbean which at the time was a British Colony at the time. While it is true that the drink is extremely common in this part of the world, however it is most likely that sangria came from Spain.
The drink became particularly popular in the 19th century when it was often served at the parties and soirees of the upper classes in Spain. From here however, it took another century or so to reach the North American continent. The drink first appeared in New York in 1964 and since then it became popular across the rest of the continent.
When the drink was first invented and consumed, it tended to be prepared using red wine from La Rioja along with some local brandy and slices of fruit that were cheap and in abundance such as apples, oranges, lemons and grapes. Naturally, as the drink expanded however, people began making sangria using their own fruits and wines and adapting it as their saw fit.
Today the typical sangria recipe consists in red wine (although specific wine is used more), brandy or cognac, fruit, a sweetener of some sort which tends to be honey or sugar, and finally, some soda water such as lemonade. The recipe is not complicated and varies from place to place depending on what is on hand and what people prefer. Yet, there is some agreement on the fact that the fruit should be marinated for several hours (up to 3 hours) so that the flavours of the fruit diffuse into the drink.
A quick sangría recipe:
Sangria is a perfect drink to make at home for yourself, your friends and your family. It is the perfect drink to enjoy on a hot summer's day and is great with tapas. The following recipe is just a quick guideline as to how to make the drink and the basic ingredients, however you can always change the ingredients to suit your tastes.
- 1 litre of red wine - traditional recipes say a wine from La Rioja but you can use what you like
- 3 peaches
- ½ lemon
- 2 oranges
- ½ glass of lemon juice
- 50g of sugar
- 1 glass of fresh orange juice
- 1 spiral of lemon peel
- Peel the peaches, slice in half and then remove the stone from the middle. Cut into fine slices.
- Peel the oranges and slice into thin slices. Repeat with the lemon.
- Place these fruit slices in a container with the sugar and brandy. Allow this mixture to marinade for up to 3 hours.
- Put the mixture into a large glass jug. Then add the red wine, orange and lemon juice.
- Add the lemon peel spiral to the jug and leave to cool in the refrigerator.
- Serve the drink very cold with ice.
With regards to the wine, it is nearly always made with red wine which also gives rise to the name of the drink. Sangria is very similar to the Spanish word, 'sangre' which means blood; hence the colour of the red wine resembles the colour of blood. Sangria can be made with white wine but this tends to be called 'sangria blanca' (white sangria). If you visit Barcelona, or another place in the region of Catalonia, you might also find sangria made with the Spanish version of champagne: cava. However this tends to be known as 'sangria de cava'.
Basically, any red wine can be used in the making of sangria, however it is thought that a young, fruity red wine will make the best sangria. The alcohol percentage doesn't matter too much either as it is going to be mixed with soda water anyway. Sometimes a wine with a lot of tannins can be good, but again these flavours will be watered down somewhat. Just note that sangria is a mixed drink so you may not want to make it with your best bottle of red!