When you're having friends over for drinks or dinner, when you're planning on bringing alcohol to a party, or when you're making Spanish food, one of the most basic yet elegant drinks to serve is sangria. It's a classic party favorite. And I'm not talking about watered down, translucent red sangria (ahem, a la Hooters). I'm talking about strong, rich, opaque red sangria. The real kind. And of course, an easy kind. My recipe adapted from About.com uses simple syrup (or sugar, if you're short on time), lots of fresh fruit, and generous doses of brandy. Cheers!
Serves: 1 pitcher (enough for about 5 people to feel a happy buzz.) Prep time: About 5-7 minutes. (About 15 minutes if you make simple syrup.)
Ingredients: 1 bottle of red wine (preferably merlot or cabernet sauvignon) 1 lemon, cut into wedges 1 orange, cut into wedges 1 apple, chopped 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced 3 tablespoons simple syrup (or 1.5 tablespoons sugar) 3-4 shots brandy wine 2 cups ginger ale
1. Pour wine into the pitcher and squeeze the juice from your lemon and orange wedges. Add the wedges, chopped apples and sliced strawberries. Add the brandy. If using simple syrup, go to step 2. If using regular sugar, add to the pitcher and stir the sangria. Ideally, chill the mixture overnight. Just before serving, add the ginger ale.
2. Meanwhile, make a simple syrup. In a small saucepan, heat about 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water over the stove, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved, turn off heat. Put aside and let cool. Add to the pitcher and stir. Ideally, chill the mixture overnight. Just before serving, add the ginger ale.
My Notes: Should I let the sangria chill? Ideally, you would nearly finish making the sangria, chill over night in the refrigerator, then serve the next day. If you do this, add the fruit, brandy, simple syrup/sugar to the red wine, then chill that mixture overnight. Upon serving, add the ginger ale and serve over ice, if desired.
What kind of wine should I buy? My favorite thing about this recipe is that it enables you to utilize the cheapest wine possible and turn it into a magnificent drink with lots of depth, flavor and of alcohol content. I dare you to use the cheapest merlot or cabernet sauvignon you can find. (Try to beat my record -- I've made this recipe with a $5 bottle of merlot.)
Why simple syrup instead of sugar? Usually, when I serve up sangria, it's because I have last minute guests or I didn't prepare well enough for a party. In this case, it's best to use simple syrup; the sugar dissolves neatly and incorporates nicely into the wine/brandy/ginger ale. But if you're making the sangria the night before, it's not a bad idea to just use sugar. It'll dissolve overnight.
What if I don't like ginger ale? I love ginger ale. It's sweet with a light, even floral, ginger taste. But if it's not your style, you can substitute it for club soda instead.
Can I use other fruits? Definitely, just as long as you keep the lemon and orange. The citrus helps balance out the strong flavors of the wine and brandy. They're also a nice complement to the sweet, fizzy ginger ale. Try adding blueberries, raspberries or even kiwi to the pitcher.