Sangria: Red or White, It’s a Fun Drink for Summertime… or Anytime

TapasSangriaIt’s close to summertime, and in Spain, that means it’s Sangria time.

Actually, the residents of Spain — at least the ones we encountered in Barcelona last fall — enjoy Sangria all year-round.

And why not? It’s fun to drink, and because it can be paired with a wide array of foods — which just happens to be the definition of Spanish tapas — it’s also quite useful, for lack of a better word.

What my fiancée Michelle and I learned in Barcelona is that there is no universal “recipe” for Sangria. There isn’t even a regional style. It’s almost as if each restaurant or bar owner makes up his or her own recipe.

On the first night we went out for tapas, Michelle opted for Sangria made with red wine because she was told it would be sweeter. It was.

I had Sangria made with white wine, and as you can see from what’s left in my glass, I enjoyed it.

I asked our server what kind of wine they used, and she replied with a sly grin, “Secret recipe.”

But from my seat, I could see that the “secret,” at least in part, was the use of a flavored soft drink made by Fanta. That was mixed with some kind of wine, and then a few slices of fruit and cubes of ice were added to the glass.

And just like that… Sangria!

It may not have been gourmet or traditional or even what others in Spain would call Sangria, but you know what? It was delicious.

Perhaps part of it was because I was with the woman I love in a city and country neither of us had ever visited. Perhaps it was because it was a warm evening, and almost anything on ice would have been welcome.

Or perhaps… just perhaps… Sangria is one of those beverages we needn’t over-think and simply enjoy it for what it is.

I’ve tried to duplicate the Sangria we had in Barcelona a few times since our return, and I’ve found that fruity wines work the best.

Among reds, I’ve had good luck with Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache), Tempranillo and Malbec.

Among whites, I recommend dry Riesling, Pinot Gris, Vinho Verde and Viognier, all of which have yielded some tasty drinks.

If you’d like some bubbles in your Sangria, go for it! Try renditions from France (from outside the Champagne region, often referred to as Cremant), Italy (known as Prosecco) or, of course, Spain (known as Cava).

And as Michelle is demonstrating, it’s perfectly okay to drink Sangria with a straw.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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