Hola, amigios! Warm sunny days and our upcoming Cinqo de Mayo celebration this weekend have us a bit obsessed with Sangria right now. So that’s this month’s subject, and a fun one it is! There are endless combinations you can dream up to create your own favorite Sangria, and we love being creative with our wines and coming up with variations that our customers will love. This weekend we’ll be introducing a strawberry lemonade Sangria – delicious! We’ll share some recipes at the end of this blog.
Sangria is a Spanish wine and fruit punch, originally made with rioja wine. Rioja’s dark red color wine inspired the name – “sangre” is Spanish for “blood”. These days, Sangria is made with all colors of wine, red, blush and white, or even a combination – white wine can be used to lighten up a heavier red, for instance. When starting with a dry wine, a sweetener is added, but this is not necessary when using a sweet wine as a base. Traditionally, chopped fruit and a little brandy are added, and a carbonated beverage is also an option. If you consider all the different wines available, different sweeteners (like sugar, honey, orange juice, agave syrup), the cornucopia of fruits to choose from and several carbonated beverages, like club soda, 7-Up, etc., you can see the possibilities are nearly endless, and present a wonderful opportunity for the creative mixologist!
The basic method of preparation is to first chill your wine until quite cold. Cut the fruit into small, thin slices or cubes. Mix the wine, brandy, sweetener (if any) and fruit in a serving container and allow to stand in the refrigerator, so that the fruit juices blend with the wine and the sweetener dissolves. Just before serving, stir well and add ice and carbonated beverage, if desired. Here at Bellview, we’ve detoured from the basic recipe a bit – we like to keep our Sangria relatively low in alcohol, so we don’t add any brandy or other alcoholic beverages. This allows us to enjoy more of our refreshing Sangria without getting tipsy, adding to the fun of any occasion.
In Latin countries, Sangria is typically served in the summer months, and is popular at bars, pubs and restaurants. It can be served in pitchers or carafes large enough to hold a bottle of wine, or from a punchbowl at a summer party. Depending on the recipe, it goes well at informal barbecues and picnics as well as fancier soirees and showers.
We’ve tried and served several different Sangrias over the years here in our tasting room and at winery events, and the most popular by far, is a Cranberry Sangria we make with our Fiesta wine. Fiesta is our cranberry grape wine, made from fresh cranberries and red wine grapes, including some native North American and European varieties. The Native American grapes contribute their typical Concord flavor, and the cranberries give a pleasing, zippy acidity. Made into sangria, with apples, oranges and lemon, it plays on the tongue with flavors of berries, grapes, red wine and citrus, sweet with just a hint of refreshing tartness, nice and cold on a hot summer day. Our patrons just love it, and we think you will, too if you haven’t yet tried it. You can make it at home just the way we do at the winery; it is really very simple. To a carafe or pitcher, add a chilled bottle of Fiesta and sliced fruit – ½ green apple, ½ red apple, one orange and ½ half lemon. (We wash the fruit first, of course, and leave the peel and rinds on when slicing.) That’s it! The wine is perfectly blended in the bottle so that nothing else is necessary. Let it chill for another 20 minutes or so for the fruit flavors to blend before serving. (We don’t recommend letting the Sangria sit for hours, as the citrus rinds will begin to add an objectionable bitterness. If you want to prepare a day ahead, then definitely remove the orange and lemon rinds before slicing). We don’t add ice, because we don’t want to dilute the flavors.
Our Fiesta is delicious as is, the blend of grapes we use with the cranberries makes a wine that is a favorite with our customers year round. We have to give credit where it is due, and tell you that we did not come up with the idea ourselves – it was brought to us by one of our customers, to whom we will be forever grateful, although we don’t know his name! One Friday afternoon a year or so after we first opened, a young man came into the tasting room, tasted several wines, and took home a few bottles of Homestead and our Cranberry wine. The next week he was back again for more, telling us that he had taken the wines to a party with his friends, and that they had tried combining the two with fantastic results. He urged Nancy to give it a try, so she mixed some in a glass then and there, and upon tasting it, had to agree that it was quite delicious. Well, that was the beginning of the idea that percolated for a bit, before being reborn as “Cranberry Sangria” during a long beach walk with hubby, Jim in Sea Isle City. (We can go on vacation, but even then we’re still thinking wine!) Long-time customers will remember the Cranberry Sangria label we started with, but the following year, the TTB told us we had to come up with a different name for the wine. We chose Fiesta because of Sangria’s Spanish background, and the fact that it was perfect for parties – can we stretch that to say it is a party in your mouth?
We promised recipes, and here they are:
First of all, a variation by our friends Dave and Elaine Crowell, they call it Portogria – just add some of our Port wine to our basic Cranberry Sangria recipe. Very tasty, and of course, this ups the alcohol content, which may be part of the appeal!
- ½ bottle Jersey Devil White wine, chilled
- ½ bottle of Lettizzia sparkling wine, chilled
- strawberries, halved
- 1 peach, peeled, quartered and sliced
- 10-12 green grapes, sliced lengthwise
- ½ bottle Jersey Blues blueberry wine, chilled
- ½ bottle Jersey Devil White wine
- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, fresh or frozen
- small sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 bottle Nana’s Wine, chilled
- 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- ½ green apple, quartered and sliced (peel on)
- ¼ lime. sliced
- 8-10 green grapes, halved lengthwise
- 1 or 2 fresh mint leaves, optional
Pinotcello – First introduced at our Italian Festival
- 1 bottle Pinot Grigio, chilled
- ¼ lemon, sliced
- ½ orange, quartered and sliced
- lemonade concentrate, thawed to taste
- 1-2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 bottle Under The Arbor, chilled
- 1 cup of watermelon slices
- 1 orange, quartered and sliced
We hope you enjoy these recipes and have fun creating some of your own. If you find a concoction you particularly love, we hope you’ll share your recipe with us!