Summer Sangria

How swapping red wine for white is the perfect twist to a summer classic

There’s something about a glass of sangria that’s hard to turn down. It’s cheerily colorful, generously specked with bright fruits, gently sweet and tangy as well as crisp and fresh, yet grippy and lingering, and it’s at its best when shared. Many countries may know how to make great wines, but trust Spain to have given the world the ultimate wine cocktail punch that could ever exist.

For the longest time, sangrias have been made with red wines and a basketful’s worth of red fruits. The idea was simple: take a basic red table wine, spruce it up with cut fruits that won’t make it cloudy or pulpy, add some sugar, spike it with a little extra alcohol (often brandies and fruit liquors like triple sec), and then chill it (in a fridge or with ice aplenty) and ladle it out generously. It worked well, and nobody seemed to mind. Even the purists of the wine world didn’t consider this act a sacrilege and gave into it. In winters, mulled wine ruled the roost, but summers were given to sangrias.

In all this time, one wonders, how come white wine sangrias were never as trendy? They seem the more appropriate fit given the traditional summer weather, and yet most people stuck to sangrias based in red wine. Lately, though, we’re seeing a popularity surge in not just white wine sangria, but even rosé – and cava-based sangrias. While you don’t actually need to change too much about the recipe, here are a few things to keep in mind while prepping the perfect summer sangria pitcher.

1 Use white-fleshed or light-fleshed fruits that aren’t too soft. Apples, pears, guavas, and pineapples work best. You can add berries or pomegranate seeds for color play, but be careful not to go overboard. Other fruits to consider include (winter) melons, grapes, and certain varieties of peaches.

2 Wine-wise, you can always swap white wine for a sparkling wine, or use some seltzer or soda water to top up. A fizzy sangria is a lovely refreshing way to serve it up.

3 Make sure the sugar syrup is as transparent as can be. Keep the heat on low and be patient through the initial cloudy stages until your syrup is brilliantly clear. Also avoid sugar syrup that’s been lying around for a while (it can have unsightly crystals with a slightly rank taste) and honey (as it will affect the flavor and texture and be extremely hard to stir in). Agave syrup can work, but it will leave some color.

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