Springtime = Sangria Time

Most people would say that sangria (the age-old mélange of fruit & wine & other  booze) is a summer drink–not a springtime drink.  I would tell these people that if Hipsters are wearing flip-flops, then it’s sangria time.  For those of you who don’t live in a skinny jeans and flannel-infused neighborhood, Hipsters are always wearing flip flops, but especially on chilly April mornings.

My first pitcher of the season stemmed from necessity–my Monday bargain bottle of Il Bastardo sangiovese was (way) less-than-stellar, so I jumped at the chance to Sangria-ify and make it more palatable. I don’t recommend using terrible wine in sangria (or anything for that matter), but you certainly wouldn’t want to use anything fancy, so something drinkable but not fantastic (like theBastardo) can work well.  Many times, I’ll go for simple Spanish or French reds, or Jaume Serra Cristallino Brut Cava ($8-$10) for a yummy and light sparkling white sangria.

Traditionally, sangria is full of berries, oranges, and other citrus fruits but, like mulled wine, recipes vary widely so feel free to use what you like and scrap what you don’t.  Often, recipes call for club soda or fruit juices to tone down the otherwise dangerous nectar.  I’m against thinning this punch with anything non-alcoholic sparkling substance, be it club soda, or Sprite–we’re drinking wine, not Hawaiian Punch after all.  Sweetners like honey or sugar bring out great fruity flavors, so don’t skip these bad boys (just purge sugar from other elements of your carb-less beach diet). In honor of my cutely-labeled Bastardo, I created a recipe based on what I had around, which didn’t disappoint.

Il Bastardo Mescolato (The Mixed-Up Bastard)

1 bottle Il Bastardo (substitute any decent red wine)

The Poor Bastard….

2 Navel oranges

1/2 lemon

1 large Gala apple (any sturdy variety will do)

1 lime

2 tbsp. honey

2 oz brandy 

1/4 cup orange juice

  1. Slice all the fruit in thin slices. Combine in a pitcher with honey and muddle gently. Add brandy and wine, and stir gently. Refridgerate for at least 1 hour. Serve over ice. Drink and smile.

The results you ask? Monday night bliss. The honey added a depth of sweetness different than white sugar (though you could certainly substitute) and the fruitiness was great. Refrigerating for longer will give stronger fruit flavors to the sangria, but do what you have time for–sangria is supposed to be fun and stress-free after all.

Sangria Uncorked:

Laura Loves: This sweet video of Alton Brown making Sangria. (Though Mark Oldman’s “How to Make Traditional Red Sangria” video from Pottery Barn was a close second.)

These resouces for tried and true Sangria recipes:



Fun Facts: 

Sangria was born in the Rioja region of Spain–it’s so hot they definitely needed a cold alternative to tempranillo.

Sangria was a popular beverage at parties in the 1800s, and according to this lady was the go-to drink for Jane Austen heroines.

Bastardo variations

Tropical–use mangoes and starfruit instead of apples, and guava nectar instead of OJ.

Albino–swap out a light vinho verde for the wine, and use green pears, white peaches, and blueberries (the honey rocks in this one!)

Berry-Tastic–20 minutes before serving add 1/2 cup each raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Gives great depth of flavor and freshness!


  • April 24, 2012
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