Frosty Summer Beverage, Anyone? May 28, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in Food, random stuff, Wine & Spirits.
I like love wine.
I like beer, too. And Jack Daniel’s, to be sure.
And we’ve always been fond of margaritas in the summer, too, notwithstanding the ice cream headache that occasionally hits one or the other of us (usually me) when we’re possibly a little overly enthusiastic with that lovely frozen drink.
But I really love wine. Wine is a life-long pursuit – there’s always something that we’ve never tried, and there are always old favorites that are constantly changing. . . more to learn, more to understand, a new region – another culture and cuisine – to become familiar with. Wine and food are like, well, food and wine.
And while we’re excessively fond of high-end wines (is there anything that can beat a nicely aged Margeaux or a nice Brunello or a Grand Riserva Rioja?) we’re also quite happy with, well peasant wines. As long as they’re not crap, anyway.
So bring in the sangria.
When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally enjoy a bottle of sangria. Now before you say anything – I know. Whatever that is in the bottles isn’t actually sangria – any more than spiked Hi-C is.
Sangria is typically made with rough, cheap red wine that’s, well, softened up with some sugar and fruit.
Aside: The first time I visited Peeps when he was still in New Jersey, he took me to a lovely Spanish restaurant, where they serve pitchers of their house sangria – in red OR white. I had never even heard of white sangria before then!
So when we were invited to a picnic for Memorial Day, we knew we wanted to bring some sangria.
We’ve never made sangria, and, while it can be incredible, it can also be incredibly bad.
And we’re going to be offering it to people. We’d better get this right.
So we went to our good friends, Cooks Illustrated. By golly, they’ve got an article about sangria, and it looks to be a good one!
Now I’m a big believer in the concept that the cuisine and the wine should be . . . if not the same, then there should be a good reason they’re not, you know?
Never ever try to serve Italian wine with soft French cheese. Trust me on this one.
And if you’ve going to serve a hearty pasta with tomato sauce and lots of cheese, you really don’t want a fruity boujolais nouveau. I’m just saying.
So if you’re going to make a Spanish wine punch – sangria – you’re going to want Spanish wine. Or at least I am.
And we happened to have a bottle of Spanish garnacha in the cellar. What are the odds?
Along with the bottle of wine, we also needed triple sec, which we had in the cabinet from the last time we made margaritas, and some fruit. An orange, a lemon, and a lime, to be exact. Plus either another orange for juicing (I only had one orange in the fridge) or a half cup or so of orange juice. And a bit of sugar.
Mise en place.
Slice the citrus into 1/4-inch slices (we used the V-slicer).
The original recipe didn’t actually call for the lime, but we had it in the fridge, and, let’s be honest. I like lime.
Once the fruit is sliced, we dumped it into a pitcher and added 1/4 cup of sugar.
Now we’re going to want to muddle it.
Muddle? you ask. Isn’t she already muddled enough?
To which I answer – Ha. Not by a long shot!
Once the sugar is added to the fruit, we actually used a potato masher to smoosh the sliced citrus until the juice is released, but the fruit isn’t actually mashed.
Remember, there’s pith in the citrus rind, which is NOT good eats. Or drinks.
Now we’re going to add about a half cup of orange juice (or another orange, juiced) and the bottle of wine, and let it just sit and, you know, get happy.
This first batch, we let sit in the fridge 24 hours, and then we left the fruit in the wine mixture as we were drinking it, and it really didn’t add anything.
The fruit slices had soaked up the red wine, so they looked pretty . . . beat.
And the pithiness of the citrus was just a little overpowering after a whole day.
It was, by no means bad, but we can do better. So we mulled it over while we drank the rest of the pitcher of sangria. That was our test batch anyway.
Of course, we had to go out to the liquor store for some more wine – this time we decided to go with a Spanish white Rueda that was about $7 a bottle.
Remember how sangria is made with cheap wine? Yeah, that’s probably because once you get it right, you start buying the wine in case lots.
Anyway, we’re making a batch of white sangria to take to a picnic, so we slice three oranges and three lemons, then juice three more oranges.
Oh, and we used valencia oranges – they’re nice and sweet and juicy, PLUS they’re Spanish oranges. Remember what I said about matching up the wine with the cuisine? Well, there’s no reason not to carry that policy over into the fruit world, is there? Spanish wine – Spanish oranges.
Makes sense, right?
Muddle ’em up with 3/4 cup of sugar – we actually had better luck putting the sugar in the container first – it dissolved more readily in the juice when we muddled.
Add three bottles of your cheap Spanish wine (red or white) and 3/8 cup of triple sec (2 Tablespoons per bottle of wine), and let set just 6-8 hours. We found that leaving it overnight was too much. Just give the citrus enough time to share its juicy and zesty goodness, without imparting any of its pity bitterness.
Strain the wine mixture into another container and chill thoroughly.
At serving time, add plenty of ice – it’s a good thing to let the punch get a little diluted, especially if you’re going to be standing around out in the sun just swilling it. I’m just saying. We perform these experiments so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
You could even slice some fresh fruit to add if you’re going to be serving it in pitchers – we dumped ours, with a bunch of ice, into a 2-gallon insulated jug with a spout on the bottom, so additional fruit would have been wasted.
Frosty cold, fruity, almost sweet, totally refreshing. Definitely something to keep in mind for your next holiday picnic, or day of yardwork, or, well, any time, I guess.
And, since this is something I’ve wanted to try for, literally, years, but I’ve been a little nervous about, I’m going to submit this for Fearless Fridays at Home-Ec 101.
So give it a try and tell me what you think, OK?