“Baby we can do it, take the time, do it right…”

by Katie Pizzuto on May 27, 2009

in Sangria

sangria-main_fullMeson Madrid. Villa of Spain. Casa Sevilla. El Cid. It doesn’t really matter what the hell the name is, does it? I sit at the bar with my best friend, waiting for the others to arrive. The room that wraps us is dressed in thick burgundy velvet with framed nostalgia of valiant matadors, sultry flamenco dancers and plated paellas. Music is being piped through small inconspicuous speakers in the corners, I think maybe it’s “Viva España” or no, maybe it’s some Placido Domingo aria. Whatever. Patrons’ lively chatter floats over the bar while I peruse the wine list. She signals the waiter with a slight nod and says, “A glass of sangria, please,” then proceeds to tell me that this joint is known for their amazing sangria. She loves it. I should order it. The bartender is, I think, winking at me—or he has something in his eye. He turns his back to us, pulls a wine glass from the racks that line the bar’s ceiling, and proceeds to pour her a glass of their famous sangria…from a jug of (I’m now biting my bottom lip so hard I think it’s going to bleed) commercially made “sangria.” He returns to take my order as he hands her that glass of prized juice, and in my infinite wisdom I decide to ask for something safe, something he can’t possibly screw up—a beer. She rolls her eyes, shakes her head and tells me I don’t know what I’m missing. I humor her, take a sip of hers, tell her it’s yummy, and go back to my cerveza.

A couple of years go by, and some random celebration finds her at my house, dipping into a big-ass bowl of my homemade sangria. “My god, Katie,” she exclaims, “this is the best sangria I’ve ever had!” I’m not much flattered by her compliment given what she’s deemed “amazing” in the past, but graciously thank her anyway. Sangria, is not something you pour out of a jug and add sliced fruit to. It’s not made—it’s prepared. There are a million variations, but none of them should ever include dumping something called “sangria” out of a bottle. That Chateau de Factory concoction is to sangria what Beefaroni is to Italian cuisine. Honestly, the most time-consuming part of the project is slicing the damned fruit anyway…what the hell are another 3 minutes gonna keep you from? Watching Paula Deen for christ’s sake? Red wine, juice, carbonation and fortifier (brandy, triple sec, etc). Throw in some fruit, let it sit, and you have yourself a serious beverage. Not exactly rocket science, and yet seldom done properly, much less done well. My go-to recipe always includes mediocre-quality wine (fruity Beaujolais, spicy shiraz, whatever) but good-quality spirits (Grand Marnier, brandy, etc). To that I add fruit juices (oj, citrus, mango, you name it) and last-minute carbonation (i.e. Sprite, 7-Up, fruit-flavored seltzers, etc.). Sangria was designed to be a “use up whatever you have in the fruit basket that’s about to go bad” device, so there’s no right or wrong, but I’m thinking that using mango juice and apple slices may not be the best combo. Other than that, some sugar, some cinammon/cloves…go to town. I even make a white sangria with chunks of watermelon, slices of lime and fresh chopped mint and basil—not classic, but certainly REAL. That’s something the stuff in a jug can never lay claim to.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 beth - the wine school May 27, 2009

I’m with you Katie – bottom shelf wine is fine when making sangria (I use Killer Juice Cabernet Sauvignon), but a topper-notch Brandy or Grand Marnier IS a must (and luckily for me, always available in Husband’s precious liquor cabinet). And all the rest you said….perfect! Now to grill up some tacos and get to the enjoying!


2 The Wine Commonsewer May 27, 2009

Stellar post, as always.

I really hate fake food. I hate drinks off the button, margarita mix, instant potatoes, lemonade powder, and a whole pile of other stuff like that. It’s a really long list.


3 Linsey May 28, 2009

im a sucker for some ‘fake’ food – some of its is comfort food – like jelly (jello) when u have to cut up the little squares and disolve it in boiling water and yes I rather like instant mashed potatoes too

Not that I would eat them in a proper meal, but sometimes with some cheese melted in is a quick supper…

am I bad?


4 Katie Pizzuto May 28, 2009

Whomever created instant margarita mix should be flogged…alongside the ones who now make instant mojitos. But I think once people taste the real thing they see the light.

Lin…I grew up eating boxed mashed potatoes because my mom was a single working mother and had no time to come home and mash potatoes at 7pm (and probably no interest in doing it either)…so I do hold some sort of weird nostalgia to it, but “ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby.”


5 Linsey May 28, 2009

Oh I agree there is nothing like the real thing – real mashed potatoes – its like buying canned new potatoes instead of a pound of Jersey Royal ones … no comparison.

But just sometimes its seriously yummy 🙂

favourite comfort foods for me …

jelly (jello) – raspberry

instant mash with really strong cheddar

fishfinger sandwich (cod sticks in breadcrumbs that are grilled/broiled)

bowl of custard out of a carton

totally lazy but mmmmmmmm!


6 The Wine Commonsewer May 28, 2009

My father can’t tell the diff between instant mashed and real mashed. He also insisted when we were kids that Oleo was just the same as butter.

Many moons ago this blond chick I dated for several years made my dad a from-scratch, lemon meringue pie for Thanksgiving. I’m gonna tell you what……this girl could bake. His remark? This is good, tastes just like Jello pudding and pie filling.


7 The Wine Commonsewer May 28, 2009

Liking IM potatoes don’t make you bad, Linsey. And, if you are careful, they can be made passably well.

Like lots of good stuff, potatoes ain’t that good for you anyway so if you’re going to eat ’em, they need to be made with good potatoes, butter, and half & half. I’ll pass otherwise.

Course I’m the same guy who brought a French Press and some Sumatran out to the desert last weekend when me & the kids were sleeping in the dirt with the scorpions.


8 The Wine Commonsewer May 28, 2009

And, I always thought that the big thing about Spain was that everything was hand made. From Tapas to Sangria.

Never been myself, but so I’ve heard…..


9 Katie Pizzuto May 28, 2009

they need to be made with good potatoes, butter, and half & half” – Half and half? Fuck that…cream brother!!

“Course I’m the same guy who brought a French Press and some Sumatran out to the desert last weekend when me & the kids were sleeping in the dirt with the scorpions.” LOL…hell of a vision. Surprised you didn’t do foie gras in a campfire 🙂

As for Spain, I’m sure they’d like us to maintain the illusion that everything is handmade, but I’ll bet a nickel to your penny that plenty of bartenders there are pouring bottled “sangria” to unknowing Americans to save a buck or two. Not all, mind you, but SOME.


10 Linsey May 28, 2009

WC – i have to disagree with you on potatoes not being that good – if you ever come to the uk come at this time of year – you can get the potato i mentioned above – jersey royal – a kidney shaped type, grown only on the island of jersey and fed on seaweed – they have a unique buttery flavour that is absolutely fantastic

so good they are either perfect just boiled or boiled with just mint on it

btw – half and half whats the british equivelent of that – is it like single cream (which you cant whip thicker)


11 Katie Pizzuto May 28, 2009

@Lin…I think he said they aren’t good FOR YOU, not GOOD. And half and half is equal parts whole milk and cream.


12 Linsey May 28, 2009

oopsy – apologies – can i count B and c vitamins though – potatoes have them in – not sure on the quantities though – i count them as part of my 5 fruits/veg a day lol

still stand up for Jersey Royals – they are bloody amazing 🙂


13 Linsey May 28, 2009

out of curiosity though i looked up the content of potatoes – and they arent that bad as long as you dont put the butter etc in …


so i keep my halo lol


14 The Kosmik Kid May 29, 2009

If not for the potato, there wouldn’t have been the Irish potato famine so long ago… just an old-fashioned generic famine. Just thought I’d point that out.

Anyone who says that potatoes aren’t good for you obviously didn’t have an Irish ancestor who died for lack of them. Or, if you did, for shame.



15 Katie Pizzuto May 29, 2009

Well said, Kos.

As a complete aside, I absolutely love that the comments have turned from sangria to potatoes! I love it!


16 mydailywine May 29, 2009

Perfect timing! I needed that sangria reminder as the season is definitely here again. Now I know the theme for my upcoming lawn party too……


17 The Wine Commonsewer May 30, 2009

Yes, Katie, I meant that potatoes aren’t particularly good for you (and then we peel them and throw away the part that IS good for you). 🙂

BTW, Kos, it was I who dissed the idea of potatoes as health food. 🙂

still stand up for Jersey Royals – they are bloody amazing

I know a guy whose family mostly still lives in Germany. He swears that German potatoes are also fabulous and put American Idaho spuds to shame. [shrugs]


18 Katie Pizzuto June 1, 2009

@Amy…try the variation I mentioned, as well…with the watermelon, lime, mint and basil. Use a wine w/hints of citrus like some Sauv. Blancs or Chenin Blancs!!

@Mike…technically, keeping the skin on is good for 2 reasons: 1. it contains 50% of the nutrients and given that there’s a lot less skin than pulp, yes, it’s the healthiest part. 2. It acts as a bit of a barrier, keeping the nutrients in the PULP there, rather than leaching out into your water. But given the amount of toxic shit they spray into the dirt nowadays, SCRUB, SCRUB, SCRUB!!


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