14 August, 2018

Italian Style Sangria

Italian Style Sangria
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A hot August afternoon, a gathering of friends, and wine. Sounds like the perfect combination to me. Since it was a very hot day, I wanted to lighten things up and make a cooler wine choice. I contemplated serving a crisp chilled white or rose wine but ultimately decided to try making an Italian style Sangria. The event was a party for an Italian group so that seemed appropriate.

Sangria actually has Spanish roots. Wikipedia states:

“Sangria is an alcoholic beverage of Spanish origin. A punch, the sangria traditionally consists of red wine and chopped fruit, often with other ingredients such as orange juice or brandy. The term Sangria dates to the 18th century. It is generally believed to have been taken from the Spanish sangre (blood), in reference to the red color of the drink.”

So how could I take this Spanish wine drink and give it an Italian flair? Well, if you know me at all, you know that I make limoncello (Italian liqueur) so my first inclination is to add it to the drink ingredients. And instead of the traditional brandy I could add Tuaca (a citrus-vanilla liqueur). Throw in a little Punt e Mes (an Italian vermouth) in place of triple sec and we’ve got the beginnings of a wonderful Sangria, Italian style. 

Then there is the type of wine to consider. Instead of a Spanish wine, I substituted a nice Tuscan Sangiovese. I probably could have used any Italian red wine and I’ll just have to make it again and try other wines (for research purposes of course). I’ll report back after a few more rounds of research – that is if I can still articulate clearly which might be a challenge.

Some recipes I looked at added a fizz to the Sangria, like 7-up, carbonated water, or ginger ale. Pellegrino sparkling water would add fizz and the flavors of Pellegrino these days vary from lemon to blood orange to grapefruit so that would add some variety. And, let’s not forget about Italian Prosecco! I actually can’t take credit for this addition to the recipe, as Grace brought it to the party and we discovered this was an enjoyable addition to our glasses of Sangria. Thanks Grace!

While I was researching ingredients and recipes, I found a recipe for “instant” sangria. Intrigued I wanted to know more about the instant part. Actually, it is blending the main fruits of sangria and making ice cubes out of the pulp. Then using those pulp cubes with the sangria wine and you have a party in your glass in an “instant.” Party in my glass in an instant? I’m all for that!

I figured two pitchers of Sangria is better than one, so I made two. Truth be told, one pitcher had the Italian vermouth and citrus liqueur and the other pitcher had regular vermouth and triple sec. I couldn’t really tell the difference, but after a few taste tests, and then a few more, I was just happy I was still upright. After all, the party was at my house!

Italian Sangria
Makes 1 generous pitcher of Sangria
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Ingredients
  1. 1 750-ml bottle Tuscan red wine, (I used Sangiovese)
  2. 3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  3. 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  4. 3/4 cup Tuaca (a citrus-vanilla liqueur) (can substitute Triple Sec)
  5. 1/3 cup Punt e Mes (an Italian vermouth) (can substitute a regular vermouth)
  6. 1/2 cup limoncello, homemade or store bought (I used my homemade version)
  7. 1/4 cup sugar
  8. Ice (I used a combination of instant Sangria cubes and ice)*
  9. Orange slices, for garnish
  10. Lemon slices, for garnish
  11. Lime slices, for garnish
  12. Blueberries for garnish
  13. Prosecco (optional)**
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients (except ice cubes) in a large pitcher and mix well. Pour Sangria over ice in a glass.
  2. * I added half a dozen or so instant Sangria cubes to the pitcher. The cubes slowly melted into the wine mixture and added a wonderfully fruity flavor.
  3. **Add Prosecco to glass of Sangria or if you prefer, add Prosecco directly into Sangria pitcher and mix. Either way it adds a zing to the drink if you like bubbly.
Instant Sangria cubes
  1. 1 lemon
  2. 1 lime
  3. 1 orange
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1 can Pellegrino (choose flavor you like)
  6. Peel the fruit, making sure you get the pith removed. Roughly chop and add to blender. Pour in Pellegrino and sugar - then blend together. Pulp will be a little foamy.
  7. Pour pulp into ice cube trays to freeze.
  8. Add a couple of cubes to a glass of wine for an "instant" Sangria, or a bunch of cubes to a pitcher.
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