Sometimes in life, the gods smile on you and bring you a wife who makes a mean pitcher of sangria. On nearly a weekly basis, nearly all year long.
Sometimes, the gods really smile on you and your wife works on her sangria recipe, sculpting it and shaping it and crafting it, until it is an utterly flawless, peerless and perfect sangria. A sangria far better (and cheaper, naturally) than the overpriced, over-sweet, HFCS-laden crap they serve you in most bars and restaurants. In short, a sangria almost too good for mere mortals.
This is the sangria recipe that I bring you today. Please enjoy it responsibly.
1.5 liters inexpensive red table wine (we use Carlo Rossi Burgundy)
1 each: lemon, line, orange, peach
1 cup strawberries
optional: other seasonal or readily available fruits
2 shots apricot or peach brandy
1/4-3/8 cup sugar, adjust according to your preferences
1) Slice up the orange, lemon and lime, chop the peaches, strawberries and any other optional fruit.
2) Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher, stir well, and then chill in your refrigerator for at least 48 hours. After 24 hours, test for sweetness: add more wine if you consider the sangria too sweet, or add more sugar if not sweet enough.
Serves 6-10, depending on the thirst of your guests.
White Sangria: Use 1.5 liters of a mild, not-too-sweet white wine in place of red wine. We've found good success by using an inexpensive pinot grigio, and then adding another 1/8 cup of sugar to the finished product. If you use a sweeter white wine, like a white zinfandel or a riesling, consider adding less sugar to the sangria or it may end up over-sweetened.
Blue Sangria: Make a batch of white sangria first, then add 3-4 shots of Blue Curacao liqueur to the pitcher. Alternatively, you can add 1-2 teaspoons Blue Curacao per glass.
A quick warning on the Blue Sangria variation: If you decide to try this variation, try to avoid using red-colored fruits--like strawberries, plums, red grapes, etc. The alcohol will leach some of the color out of these fruits, giving your white sangria a reddish-pink tinge. There's nothing wrong with this coloring per se (in fact it's quite beautiful), it's just that when you add Blue Curacao to a reddish-tinged white sangria, you end up with, well, a less-than-appetizing greyish color. Finally, Blue Curacao has a bit of a bitterness to it, so feel free to compensate by sweetening the sangria a bit more.
2) Making your sangria in-season: A key advantage of this recipe is that it can be adapted to practically any seasonal or readily available fruits. Summers here in New Jersey are great for local strawberries, grapes and peaches, and so over the next few months we'll bias our sangria towards them. In the fall, apples become plentiful and less expensive. And of course, right now in the middle of winter we're in Florida citrus season, so oranges and grapefruits are cheap and plentiful. Finally, lemons, limes and pineapples, although not local for us, are usually available year round.
Selecting seasonal and/or local fruits is a great way to add character to your homemade sangria and make it more laughably cheap, so take maximum advantage of what's in season in your stores!
3) On sweetness: Admittedly, "sweet" is a relative term, and you may like your sangria sweeter than we do (although I encourage you to try the recipe as is, and see what you think).
Our first, halting versions of this recipe were way too sweet and cloying, and we cut back the sugar meaningfully. Further, I've also seen horrible bastardizations of sangria recipes that not only include too much sugar, but call for other excessively sweet additives like (shudder) lemonade concentrate.
The real flavors here are the fruit and wine as they mellow together over the course of a few days. Once again, I urge you to try the recipe "as is" first--you can always add more sugar later if you prefer it that way.
4) One final note: After you've drained your pitcher of sangria, eat the remaining fruit. Please trust me on this.
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