Cherry Sangria

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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 happen to be the worst bartender around. You’d think I’d be pretty good at it with my affinity for anything alcoholic, but I’m not. And my daughter is married now and doesn’t live with me, so I can’t rely on her to make sangria for me any more. So I’m just going to have to put my big girl bartender pants on.

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.

But the thing is, you can do so much with sangria. You can use white wine instead of the more common red. And you can get creative with the fruits. I’ve made summery white sangria with peaches and grapes, and a very girly rosé sangria with raspberries and mint for a bridal shower.

And, you can use different liqueurs instead of brandy. I really like using Grand Marnier for the orange flavor, but I’ve also used crème de cassis for currant flavor. I very often use Quady Essencia, which is 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 is you use a sweet wine. Less alcohol isn’t a bad thing, either. Sangria can go down really fast and easy. Especially on ice, when it’s really hot outside… not that I would know anything about that…

So today I wanted to make a new kind of sangria with cherries. I needed to use griottines that I never used over the holidays. If you’re not familiar with them, check them out here. Griottines are the result of Oblachinska Morello cherries that are picked where they grow in the Balkans, then essentially “brandied” with kirsch for a period of 6 months. They are alcoholic cherries in a strong but sweet syrup.

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Griottines can be purchased at igourmet.com here.

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So today I’m making sangria, but using cherries for my fruit, and the cherry-kirsch syrup instead of brandy.

Cherry Sangria

1 bottle (750 ml) light and fruity red wine
1/3 cup syrup strained from the jar of griottines
Juice of 1 orange
Griottines
1 can of Fresca
Orange Slices

It’s best if you start your sangria a few hours ahead. Place the bottle of wine, the syrup and the cherries in a pitcher and chill everything in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

I used Castle Rock pinot noir from the central coast of California. It’s not fruity, but is a real smooth pinot noir, and sells for $8.99 a bottle.

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Right before serving, pour one 12 ounce can of chilled Fresca into the pitcher. Decorate the glasses with sliced oranges, add a few cherries, ice, and pour in the sangria. Enjoy.

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note: If you prefer a lighter sangria, or perhaps a Cherry Sangria Sprizter, add one more 12 ounce can of Fresca. It’s very light and refreshing, more more like a spritzer than true sangria.

Also, this cherry sangria would be good with a white wine as well, like a nice Riesling. That way, you could see the cherries more.

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verdict: Loved it. Will make again.

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