Sangria is tricky. Made well, it is a mouth-enlivening sensory experience formed by the perfect marriage between earthy notes of good wine and the sweet acidity of juicy fruits.
At worst, it is a hangover that doesn’t quit and a headache that splits temples in two. I’ve been there.
The first sangria I attempted was for my own going away party in Rome, the first time I lived there, circa 1997. Raquel, a Spanish friend of mine who I met in language class several years prior, had told me how to make sangria. Red wine, fruit, lemon soda and vodka. My head hurts just writing those words. I ruined my own party for myself. The headache I think came with the first sip. I have no idea if any other Spaniard in the world would agree with her sangria recipe, but I learned a very valuable life lesson from that experience: Do not add sugar (or lemon soda which is filled with sugar) or vodka to red wine.
Sometimes it is only through downfall that one rises to great heights. After that party, I think I made a secret pledge to erase the disaster by bringing a perfect sangria forth to share with the world. It took me 15 years, but here it is.
This sangria is perfect because it uses Moscato d’Asti, a favorite light bubbly Italian dessert wine, mixed with a dry rosé to create a crisp blend of wines that is just sweet enough and just strong enough. The color of the mixture reflects the sun rays of summer and once the fruit is added, you will be serving a work of art created from the greatest delights our earth provides us.
As is true when preparing most dishes, let God do the work. Just add the fruit to the wines and step back to let the quality of the ingredients radiate their innate goodness.
- 1 bottle chilled Moscato d’Asti
- 1 bottle chilled good rosé wine
FRUIT AND FRESH HERBS: choose from the following that you find through your local farmer’s market (the amount is a suggestion - not a rule. You can’t mess this up!!)
- an orange, sliced in half - cut into 3 circles, and then in half = 6 pieces
- 3 apricots - chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 3 plums, sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 2 nectarines or peaches - white or orange, or one of both - sliced into wedges (eighths)
- 1 pear, cored and cut into ½ inch slices
- 1 apple
- 2 handfuls of green or white grapes
- 10 cherries plus more for garnishing each glass
- 10 strawberries plus more for garnishing each glass
- Fresh mint or basil leaves to garnish (optional)
Mix it up, put it in the fridge covered for an hour, and serve it up. (Don’t leave in fridge too long or you will lose the bubbles. To prepare in advance, cut up all the fruit and just pour in the chilled wines an hour before guests arrive.)
Don’t throw out the fruit when all the wine is done!
Here are a few ideas for it:
- Place it in a bowl with lemon sorbet on top, garnished with fresh mint.
- Put it in a pan, cover and cook over medium low heat for an hour. Serve à la mode.
Want to take cooking classes with Elana in Los Angeles? Go to mealandaspiel.com.