Before my older daughter lived in Spain for a summer, I’d never been crazy about sangria. I liked wine just fine without any tampering. But when she came back and made sangria for me the “real” way – I gained great respect for it.
I’ve never been a great “mixologist,” but Because she no longer lives with us, I’ve had to put my big girl bartender pants on, and I’ve gotten pretty good with sangria. What I’ve learned is that you can essentially do your own thing with sangria; you are not limited by the authentic recipe.
Sangria is typically wine, brandy, a little sugar, and some fruits. There’s a little bit of muddling of the fruits and sugar, but that’s essentially it. Sometimes there’s some lemonade, or something sparkling added. I honestly don’t care for the brandy part of traditional sangria. But the thing is, you can do so much more with sangria ingredients. You can use white wine instead of red. And you can get creative with fruits. I’ve made summery white sangria with peaches, and a girly rosé sangria with raspberries and mint. And it all works.
It’s also “okay” to use different liqueurs/liquors instead of brandy. I like using Grand Marnier for the orange flavor, but I’ve also used crème de cassis for currant flavor. and very often Quady Essencia, an orange dessert wine. It doesn’t pack a punch like brandy, and it’s more flavorful to me. You also don’t need any added sugar if you use something sweeter.
Today I wanted to make sangria to use up some cherries. I keep jarred cherries around because my husband loves Manhattans, but it’s definitely not Manhattan season. There are many wonderful varieties of cherries – I collect different brands of them for fun.
You can also get alcoholic cherries like these Griottines.
So I’m using cherries for my fruit, and the cherry syrup plus Grand Marnier instead of brandy and sugar. The secret my daughter taught me is it’s a lot about the bubbly! So of course we use Fresca.
Cherry and Orange Sangria
Juice of 1/2 orange
Big splash of Grand Marnier
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled rosé or pinot grigio
1/3 cup syrup strained from the jar of cherries
Cherries, to your liking
1 – 12 ouncecan of chilled Fresca
Place the orange slices in the bottom of a pitcher, then squeeze the orange juice over the top. Add the cherry syrup and cherries. If you want your sangria more alcoholic, you can add kirsch or maraschino liqueur or any liqueur of your choice, but not more than 1/4 cup. I am using Grand Marnier for the orange flavor enhancement.
Pour in the wine, and then the Fresca.
If you want your sangria to be more like a refreshing spritzer, add another 12 ounce can of fresca.
This, and any sangria, can be made with red wine, like a Malbec.