A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken. –James Dents
Hey! It’s summer! Be free and happy and danceful and uninhibited and now-y! –Terri Guillemets
Summer afternoon–summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. –Henry James
My husband refers to me as a “late adopter”. This has been true regarding certain forms of technology. I’m not the first to run with the latest innovation when it enters popular culture. But when I do jump in, it’s all the way. Then, I can’t remember life as it was before.
This summer I was surprised with a different type of “late adaptation”. It happened to be with a beverage I had never tried, even once.
On the July 4th American Independence Day holiday weekend I was with Dietician Daughter, her husband, and his Kansas family. She served me a berry and fresh fruit topped drink in a tall glass with a straw. It was deep burgundy in color. The icy glass, sweating beads of condensation, was garnished with succulent fruit. It was her version of Sangria.
On a sultry summer afternoon, around a backyard table with good people, this drink captured my attention. There was thirst-quenching coolness. There was the lushness of summer berries in red wine. I drank a second glass.
Sangria has been around for 2000+ years. When the Roman Empire reached the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal and began mixing wine into the water to sanitize it, the beginnings of Sangria were born. Long a common, informal drink on the European continent, Sangria was not widely consumed in the U.S. until it was introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
Twice I have been to the Iberian Peninsula in western Spain hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, but I was not offered Sangria there. We drank wonderful Galician wines every evening as an accompaniment to the regional food. It was poured straight from the bottle and never mixed with anything.
Sangria comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word “sangre” meaning blood because of its’ dark red color. It is traditionally made with Spanish red wine, fruit, brandy, some kind of sweetener and ice. Carbonated water may or may not be added for fizz.
That’s all there is to it. This is also where Sangria becomes much more interesting. With a rudimentary knowledge of ingredients, the end result is in the hands of the maker. Dietician Daughter was imaginative in her “berry” form of creativity. Now I can’t drink it any other way.
For the rest of the summer, I began ordering Sangria in restaurants. Some were made with white wine, some with red. At the very most they might have one or two pieces of shredded, mangy looking citrus fruit in the bottom of the glass. Pizzazz and eye candy beauty were nonexistent. Not one was memorable. Not one reminded me of friends and family sharing stories and playing games on a summer afternoon. Not one begged to be repeated.
My short scientific study convinced me that the only Sangria worth the calories is the one you make yourself. With ingredients you choose. The wine must be of a quality that you would drink on its own. The fruit must be plentiful. And FRESH.
Here is the very best summer SANGRIA you will ever make. Or drink. It’s simple, it’s fruity, slightly dry and slightly sweet, a bit boozy, and refreshing like a lazy summer day. Pass the pitcher around a table in the mountains, by the sea, on the terrace, or in the backyard. Say, “yes” to a berry summer sangria. Then go lie in a hammock under the trees and muse.
LARA’S BERRY BEST SUMMER SANGRIA
- fresh whole berries [or pieces of fruit] for garnish
- ice to chill
- 750 ml bottle of Spanish Red wine, chilled [I used Ribiera de Duero. Or Rioja.]
- ½ C. brandy
- ¾ C. orange juice
- 3-4 T. brown sugar
- any seasonal combination of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. [Or use peaches and mangoes]
- ½ orange, rind on, sliced thinly
- ½ apple, skin on, chopped
In a large glass jar or pitcher, place fruit and sugar and muddle with a wooden spoon or muddler.
Add OJ and brandy and muddle again. Add red wine and stir.
Taste and adjust flavors to your liking. [More brandy or OJ or sugar as you wish.] Stir again. Add ice to chill and serve as is in clear glasses.
Get the fruit on. Garnish with lots of fresh berries or fruit of choice. Serve with a spoon for scooping winey fruit into your mouth between sips.
May be stored, covered, in refrigerator to steep and chill several hours, but then don’t add ice until serving.
Best consumed within 1-2 days.
12 thoughts on “Berry Best Summer Sangria”
Sounds perfect for next summer in Michigan! Wine and brandy free for the kids, of course.
Elizabeth, This is a great research project between now and next July. Invent a delicious alcohol-free sangria recipe! It won’t actually be sangria without the wine, but grape juice and ginger ale might work for color and a bit of carbonation. Berries are good with anything. Let me know how your experimentation progresses…we can write about it.
In the land of seemingly eternal summer, white sangria is one of our survival secrets. The red will have to wait for fall, but when fall finally arrives, we look forward to test sips.
Thanks, Wendy! Great fun. Will need to try this!
What a very interesting blog. The drink itself is a visual picture. I love all types of berries and this recipe is a keeper for summer days with fresh fruit in season. Your pictures are always anxiously awaited when I see your blog posted. Tell your “nutritional ” daughter thanks for exposing me to this very creative way to get fruits into my diet!!! Curious where she found it or if she created it herself!
Carol, I think the original recipe she loosely “followed” came from another blog site. There are lots of sangria recipes out there. It’s a very creative make-it-your-way kind of drink. Enjoy!
Born out of a lazy summer afternoon– your pictures, the colors and prose overflow with language. My favorite phrase is, “… the end result is in the hands of the maker.” Not unlike life. Keep writing and more often!
An inviting recipe, Wendy, but really wonderful photographs. That Colorado sunset is a rare and beautiful shot.
What a delicious way to extend the bright, tangy, refurbishing effects of a blessed summer.
And may the drunken beliefs in good prevail.
I just returned from dinner at “Yew,” a wonderful restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, BC Canada. There I enjoyed a delicious red Sangria with blackberries and a slice of lime, rum, etc. Absolutely- sangria is a fabulous summer drink- I will try your recipe soon! Thx Wendy!