I have something of a confession to make: I’m wine-dumb.
If you asked me for a wine pairing for a given recipe, I could guess at red or white, maybe. I can’t remember which varieties are dry and which have oaky underpinnings and which have legs all the way up to there, even as I’ve tried to retain that information over the years.
It’s mildly infuriating; I’m pretty positive I could pick a pack of poblano peppers out of the crowd, and I know which flour brand has more protein than the rest, but heaven help me when it comes to deciding between pinot noir and chenin blanc.
Perhaps that’s why I appreciate a good sangria: Since you’re going to doctor the wine with fruit, sugar and more alcohol, there’s no pressure in choosing the best bottle from the crowded shelves.
Even better? The recipe I’m sharing outright calls for inexpensive wine. I’ll take a delicious pitcher of seven-dollar sangria any day, thank you very much. (For the record, buying based on label design has yet to steer me that wrong.)
This is a drink that works just as well at an afternoon garden party as it does late into the evening. If you’re planning to serve it all day, a double (OK, triple) batch is hardly any more work, and you can turn up the volume with a splash or two (OK, seven) of brandy.
If you like your spirits with a little more effervescence, you may prefer a different concoction. This one uses prosecco, which is essentially Italian Champagne, and it also plays well at any time on a hot summer’s day: cooling and playful when the sun is up, tasty and elegant when the stars are out.
Ina Garten calls this a sgroppino — as that’s apparently the technically correct Italian term for a mixture of prosecco, vodka and sorbet — but we’re going to call it a Raspberries and Cream Spritzer so you don’t spend all day first trying to pronounce that and, second, explaining it to your guests.
I tried a couple kinds of prosecco and was surprised to discover one tasted and smelled like the inside of a barn. It was not particularly enjoyable on its own, childhood flashbacks aside, but tasted just fine in the finished drink, so don’t fret too much over picking this either.
Feel free to embellish with some fresh raspberries and use whatever serving vessels you like. I don’t own any low cocktail glasses but enjoyed a spritzer just fine out of both a champagne flute and a wine glass.
The Best Sangria
The longer sangria sits before drinking, the more smooth and mellow it will taste. A full day is best, but if that’s impossible, give it an absolute minimum of two hours to sit. Use large, heavy, juicy oranges and lemons for the best flavor. Doubling or tripling the recipe is fine, but you’ll have to switch to a large punch bowl in place of the pitcher. An inexpensive Merlot is the best choice for this recipe.
2 large juice oranges, washed; one orange sliced, remaining orange juiced
1 large lemon, washed and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
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1/4 cup Triple Sec
1 bottle inexpensive, fruity, medium-bodied red wine (750 milliliters), chilled
Add sliced orange, lemon, and sugar to large pitcher; mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice but is not totally crushed and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec, and wine; refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.
Before serving, add 6 to 8 ice cubes and stir briskly to distribute settled fruit and pulp; serve immediately.
Chef’s note: To fortify the sangria, add brandy to taste. I’d suggest starting with 1/4 cup and working your way up from there.
Source: America’s Test Kitchen
Raspberries & Cream Spritzer
1 pint raspberry sorbet
1/4 cup vodka, chilled in the freezer
1 bottle prosecco (750 milliliters), chilled
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
Place the raspberry sorbet and vodka in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed for 30 seconds, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Spoon the sorbet mixture into 3 low cocktail glasses and, while beating with a fork, add enough prosecco to each glass so the sorbet is still creamy but not thick. Add one small scoop of ice cream to each glass and top with another splash of prosecco. (The spritzer should be the texture of a light slushy. The ice cream will melt into the raspberry slush.) Serve immediately with a small spoon.
Chef’s note: You may want to mix the individual drinks with a wooden skewer or the like if you’re concerned about shattering delicate glassware with a whirling fork.
Source: Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa”