In the summer, I often keep dinners fairly simple. Farmer’s market fair generally needs little work.
Dress some greens. Boil some corn. Roast a few potatoes. You get the idea. There is not much too it.
So, that often opens up a bit of time to put a little effort into something else. Sometimes I will make a special dessert, which is more labor-intensive. Or, even better I feel, a festive cocktail.
I love good sangria in the summer for a bunch of reasons. It is cold, fruity and refreshing. It will basically go with and enhance any meal. Grilling meat, choose a red. With fish, make one featuring a white.
But, I also have a love/hate relationship with sangria. Basically, I either love it or I hate it.
Sangria, if made poorly, can be way too sweet. Not to mention, watery. People tend to use cheap wine and then overcompensate with too much sugar and juice fillers. All this does is make the concoction worse.
You don’t have to use the best wine to make good sangria. A simple $10 bottle should do it as long as you like the general flavor. This does not mean go out and buy the cheapest wine you can find. It means buy a fairly inexpensive one you do like.
The flavor comes in when you add the extra ingredients and let them meld but all this is doing is adding to the base wine you already like.
Another big advantage of sangria, is that you can adapt it to fit any taste. You can really use any fruit that is in season or that you have on-hand. You can make a sparkling version if you are feeling festive.
Sangria is simple and quick to make so you can throw it together right before dinner. However, if you plan ahead you can soak the fruit in the alcohol so it permeates the fruit.
I drink rose more in the summer than any other time of year. I don’t know why, I guess it just feels right to me in the summer in particular. One day when making a typical farmer’s market dinner I decided a rose sangria would be a good fit to go with the meal. Peaches are is season so I found a rose recipe that included peaches.
The trick to sangria, I think is cutting down the sugar a bit, and upping the alcohol level at the same time. That way you can actually feel the drink and it is not too watery and sweet.
Also, never put it on ice before you are ready to serve. The ice will, obviously, melt and people will have to add more to the mixture, ultimately upsetting the balance.
So, if time allows, prep the fruit and get it soaking in the wine and/or spirits at least an hour before you need to serve it. Add all bubbly ingredients last and don’t pour it over ice until you are ready to serve. It is nice if you mixture can all be chilled ahead too.
Use this recipe as a rough outline and feel free to adapt with the fruit you have on hand or is fresh at the time. It would also be nice with a sparkling wine floater.