by Emily R. See
For many, sangría conjures up painful memories of “trash can”
punch made with cheap wine and a few sad-looking apples, and
usually an even more painful hangover. The traditional summer
refreshment in Spain, sangría became popular in America after it
was featured in the 1964 World’s Fair, giving people a new excuse
to buy jug wine. So it isn’t too surprising that in the sweeping
Spanish culinary trend (tapas), sangría has been left to
languish as frat party fare.
Although most joints in Santa Barbara still serve up a pretty
traditional concoction (red wine, brandy, and fruit juice), the
rest of the country seems to be experiencing a surge in exotic
sangrías, made with everything from sake and cucumbers to iced tea
to hot peppers to Irish whiskey.
There are likely as many sangría recipes as there are people in
Spain, but we like this one for its cool crispness. Feel free to
get creative. If you have beautiful strawberries on hand, use them
in place of the plums. If you’re a red wine die-hard, substitute
your favorite rioja and add a splash of soda for carbonation. There
really is only one rule: Use only the best ingredients possible.
(So put down that jug of Carlo Rossi.)
Sparkling White Sangría
4 T. white cranberry juice 2 T. brandy 2 tsp. sugar 3-4 ripe
plums, thinly sliced 750 mL prosecco*, chilled 8 mint
Mix first three ingredients in a large bowl until sugar
dissolves. Add plums, cover, and refrigerate at least one hour or
up to eight hours. (The longer the fruit mixture sits, the more the
flavors will incorporate.) Divide between four large glasses, and
top with prosecco. Garnish with mint, and serve
* Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine that tends to be less
expensive than champagne, and crisper than Spanish cavas. For this
sangría we use Zardetto prosecco ($12 at liquor stores), but Zonin
prosecco ($6 at Trader Joe’s) would work nicely as well.