Sangria: A Solution for Unwanted Wine
If you ever hosted a holiday gathering, chances are at least one or two of your guests showed up with a bottle of wine as a gift for you, the gracious host or hostess. While any gift is appreciated, what do you do if you appreciate the thought more than the wine itself? Perhaps you're a wine snob and the wine doesn't meet your usual high standards. Perhaps you don't care for the particular variety of wine. You could regift the bottle, but that can be awkward. You could dump it down the drain, but that would be wasteful. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When well-meaning friends give you cheap wine, make sangria.
Sangria is a wine punch with its origins in Spain. There are as many variations of sangria as there are of wine itself, but the typical recipe includes wine, fresh fruit, and a sweetener. Many recipes also include brandy or a carbonated beverage like seltzer or white soda. Sangria can be made with any sort of wine, red or white (if using white wine, call it sangria blanca), but it's best to use inexpensive wine. Sangria would not be a good use of your prize bottle of 1986 Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux!
Since it's served ice-cold, sangria is considered by many to be strictly a summertime drink, but with a few seasonal touches, it also makes a festive holiday punch. Take it a step further and turn your unwanted wine gift into a reason for a party. Serve a variety of Spanish-style tapas – a variety of both hot and cold snack-sized foods that can be combined to make a meal – along with a punch bowl of sangria for a fun Spanish theme at your next party.
1 bottle of red wine, chilled
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced
2 cups soda water, chilled
Pour the wine into a glass pitcher or bowl. Add orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add sliced fruit and chill at least two hours or overnight. Add club soda immediately before serving. Serve over ice.
Variation: Add sliced fresh strawberries or peaches when in season.
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 bottle of red wine, chilled (a dry, full-bodied wine works best for this recipe)
1 shot brandy
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 cups soda water, chilled
In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and honey and stir until the honey is dissolved. Pour the wine into a glass pitcher or bowl. Add orange juice and honey mixture, brandy, cinnamon stick, cloves, and fruit. Chill overnight. Add club soda immediately before serving. Serve over ice.
Author Kathie Giorgio (The Home for Wayward Clocks) serves this fruity sangria every year at her annual writing retreat. The recipe, made with inexpensive White Zinfandel, makes enough for a crowd, but can be scaled back for smaller groups.
2 bottles Sutter Home White Zinfandel
1 bottle Peachtree Peach Schnapps
1 bottle white cranberry/peach juice
1 can pineapple juice
Splash of white soda (Kathie uses Sierra Mist)
Granny Smith apples
Combine wine, schnapps and juices in a punch bowl. Use a melon baller to create apple balls. Float the apple balls and orange slices in the punch bowl. Serve over ice.
Menu Suggestions for a Spanish-Themed Party
- Spiced olives
- Marinated mushrooms (cold) or mushrooms simmered in wine and garlic (hot)
- Crostini (thin slices of toasted bread) with various toppings such as roasted red peppers, olive spread, or chopped tomatoes
- Tortilla española: a type of omelet made with eggs, onions, and diced potatoes, cut into small squares
- Albondigas: Spicy meatballs in a tomato sauce
- Empanadas: Small meat-filled turnovers
- Sizzling shrimp: Shrimp sautéed in olive oil with garlic and chopped chili peppers
Wine at Five May Promote Longer Lives: Read about the potential health benefits of wine and get the Secret Cellar's no-longer-secret sangria recipe.
How to Host a Tapas Party with Recipes and Menu Suggestions: Ideas for an easy and informal party, Spanish-style.
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