30 December 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sangria is one of the most delicious drinks of the holiday season.  Use white wine for a crisp, new-years-y feel.  

White wine sangria makes a great signature drink for your holiday cocktail party: fresh, crisp, boozy, and you can make the mix the day ahead.  Added bonus: fights scurvy...

Make-Ahead White Sangria Mix for your Holiday Party

Take advantage of the peak of citrus season and use fresh-
squeezed ingredients.

Get the mix ready the day before or the morning of your party.  

1 meyer lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
2 clementines, sliced
4 oz brandy
juice of 1-1/2 meyer lemons, 1 lime, 3 clementines

Put the sliced fruit in a pint-sized mason jar.  Add the brandy then top with the citrus juices.  This should almost exactly fill the jar.  Make up one jar of mix for each bottle of wine you anticipate turning into sangria.

Take a moment to marvel at how beautiful those jars of citrus fruit look, then put them in the fridge until you are ready to use.  (If it's a cold enough winter, you might be able to store them in your shed or a closed in porch... if you aren't sure, don't take the chance.)
Each pint-sized mason jar of citrus-brandy mix will do one 750 mL bottle of wine.  Use the jar to measure your sparkling lemonade, mix it all together and illico presto, you have sangria.

White Wine Sangria Instructions

Make sangria in a pitcher or punch bowl (depending on the size of your party and your aesthetic sensibility) with ice.  Since it's all pre-measured, you can start with as much as you want and easily top it up as needed. For each jar of sangria mix add:

1 bottle of crisp and bright white wine (like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
2 cups* of decent sparkling lemonade**

*don't bother with a measuring cup, just fill your empty mix jar to the neck
**this saves you from having to make a syrup and figure out the right ratio of syrup to soda water, and still lets you avoid the HFCS pitfall of most soda pop 

...give it a stir and you're on! 

[Hi, Mom!  You can skip this paragraph, I won't be offended...]  A million years ago when we were undergrads living in a student apartment with a then-new-friend who is a now-old-friend, we had the occasional sangria party: everyone brought a bottle of cheap red wine and piece of fruit.  A big bucket was filled with the various wines of suspect origin, some cheap brandy or maybe whisky (or whatever was handy) was tipped in, grapefruit-ish Wink soda to dilute and sweeten, and masses of uncoordinated fruit were chopped and tossed in for good measure.  When the sangria ran out and the fruit mostly consumed, anyone left standing was likely to go out for breakfast.  This bucket-of-sangria fun, I must point out, was started by previous tenants of that apartment long before we moved in... a tradition that was inherited with the apartment.  A tradition that should undoubtedly stay with the apartment, because anyone over the age of 25 is probably not immortal enough for the consequences of such an event.

If I recall correctly, sangria parties were generally spring events, something to help shake off the long cold winter.  So for the longest time, I thought of sangria as a spring or summer drink.  Bubbles, fruit, ice... what's not summery about that? 

But, lo and behold, I was wrong.  

A few years ago, I was talking warm weather drinks with a Portuguese-immigrant friend who found it amusing that I associated sangria with summer because, so far as she is concerned, sangria is for Christmas.  What an epiphany!  Even without thinking too hard about it, I am happy to defer to the Portuguese on this.  

But think about it anyway: of course sangria is a Christmas drink.  Citrus is available year-round, but December is when it’s at its peak season.  It’s the time of year we buy crate after crate of clementines and the end of the season for boxes of mandarins wrapped in thick purple paper.  Meyer lemons and early blood oranges appear on the shelves, limes become so inexpensive you can buy them in dozens without having a panic attack at the till, and heavy boxes of grapefruit pre-ordered as fundraisers for school bands finally materialize.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year indeed.

So make sangria during the holiday season.  (In a pitcher or punch bowl.  No buckets.***)

***Unless, of course, you are a student... 

And a happy new year!

The advantage of fresh but pre-measured sangria mix could become abundantly clear as
the evening progresses... 

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