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The Quarantini Series: Sangria

Things are getting warmer around the country! With that in mind, I decided to present one of my very favorite beverages for warmer weather––sangria. And just in time for Memorial Day!

I think my favorite thing about sangria is how diverse it is, and how different each iteration can be. On top of that, it's boozy as hell, and perfect for a warm weekend afternoon of trying to forget the quarantine mess.

I have made many a sangria in my day, sometimes using red wine, sometimes white, and sometimes rosé. I've also used all sorts of different fruit, herbs, and liquors/liqueurs to vary the flavor. It all depends on the flavor profile you'd like to go for!

I've broken down the recommendations I have for each type of wine, but some things I include in every sangria are wine, fruit, simple syrup, and spirits or liqueurs; specifically, I use citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, and limes), tart apples, and simple syrup, to taste, in every recipe. That is a good starting point, but here are more specific guidelines:

For red sangria, select a fruit-driven dry red wine, and one with light to medium body. Some good options are merlot, Beaujolais, garnacha (grenache), barbera, or zinfandel; you'll also want to pick one with low tannins and higher acidity. You want to use a decent, but not expensive wine, since the wine is ultimately the base of the drink, but you don't want to use your really good wine for anything but drinking on its own. For fruit, all sangria should include citrus, heavy on oranges and including lemons and limes. I also tend to include tart apples in any of my sangrias. In red sangria, I focus on darker or red fruits, like plums, blackberries, or blueberries. I also like to use brandy or cognac as the spirit in a red sangria, since it adds some body. A dark rum can also be a wonderful choice. Of course, you'll want to include some simple syrup to taste, perhaps some orange or pomegranate juice, and I also like to add some sparkling wine or club soda for some effervescence.

White sangria is an excellent choice for an even lighter, fruitier tipple. Seek out unobtrusive light white wines bursting with fruit, like albariño, pinot grigio, or chenin blanc. Some of my favorite fruits to include, aside from the necessary citrus and apple, are things like strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, mango, and pineapple. Some sparkling wine can make it effervescent and even more refreshing. Clear spirits are a good choice, such as a botanical gin, silver rum, or even a flavored vodka, and floral liqueurs like elderflower can add an extra level of nuance. Consider also things like dry vermouth, Lillet, sherry, etc. If you want to take it to the next level, I have seen some herbs added to white sangria, like basil. Experiment!

You can also make a delicious rosé sangria with any number of rosé wines, from transparent, strawberry-driven Provençal wines to complex fruit bombs made of grapes like mourvèdre. Many of the fruit selections mirror those you'd make with white sangria, like berries and tropical fruits, but you can also include some carryover darker fruit from red sangria, like plums or pomegranates. Rosé sangria provides plenty of opportunity for variation, and can dip into the most ebullient, light wines or the heavier, more complex fruit. I'd stick with clear spirits and liqueurs, much like white sangria, to keep the color and lifted character of the beverage, and vermouth is particularly lovely with rosé sangria.

Want to go crazy? Get into some orange wine sangria. Orange wines are made in a similar way to rosé, spending some time fermenting on the skin (and sometimes seeds), except the grapes are white grapes rather than red grapes, and generally spend more time on the skins than rosé. They're like a white wine with a red wine's mouthfeel. I've can't say I've ever made sangria out of orange wine, but try it! I will be popping down to the store to buy some and try it soon.

Always serve sangria over ice in the glass, but if you want to keep it cool in the serving container, you don't want to include naked ice (unless it's in a sealed container) lest you dilute the mixture. I like to make a big pitcher, or even spigot cooler, full of sangria, and keep it chilled, serving it over several days. The sangria will just get better and more complex the longer the fruit marinates and flavors meld. Each day, you'll have a new, more interesting beverage to enjoy!

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