Mixology 101: Sangria

Updated: 23 Jul 2012

A wine-based cocktail that’s good for sharing, and your heart. By Rachel Jena

How to draw blood
The name of this drink comes from the Spanish word ‘sangre’, which means ‘blood’. It’s a fitting moniker, as the classic base of this cocktail is red wine – and lots of it. A classic recipe for sangria sees three parts of red wine mixed with one part of orange juice, two parts of lemonade, and some brandy. It’s not complete without the add-ons that define this wine punch – ice, fresh mint and a generous portion of sliced fruits like oranges and apples. Want to be a little different? Add sliced strawberries or grapes, and be sure to let it all soak together in the fridge for a few hours. Trust us when we say don’t rush this stage. Give the ingredients some time to get to know each other, and you’ll be rewarded with the very best flavours.

Red isn’t really my colour
Not feeling in the red? You can use white wine instead of red and make a sangria blanca, which is also called cleric in Argentina. Don’t waste the expensive stuff in this punch though; a simple, well-priced Chardonnay is sufficient as you can capitalise on the flavours from all the other ingredients. In some regions of Portugal, the punch is spiced up with some cinnamon and sweetener, and if you’re not too keen on that full-bodied bottle of red you have at home, dilute it with some white wine for a spin-off of the classic recipe.

It’s summery and it’s for sharing
It’s hot, you’re wearing less clothes, and there’s no better drink to have in your hands than a glass of sangria. It’s a definite winner in the summer drink stakes and perfect for sharing as it’s normally made in large batches. In Spain and Portugal, it’s drunk in abundance throughout the summer months, and in the Southern and Eastern parts of these countries, all-year round owing to warmer temperatures. And whilst it’s not as much a staple, chances are you’ll also find the cocktail served in restaurants serving Latin American grub.

Low on guilt, big on taste
You want a drink but you can’t deal with the guilt of how it’s coiling at your intestines or how it’s full of naughty sugars? Sangria is the cocktail for you. Red wine is known as an antioxidant and a glass a day is said to be good for your heart thanks to a compound in the wine called resveratrol. Plus, all the fruits in the cocktail give you a portion of your daily vitamin requirements. Just go easy or omit the lemonade altogether, and use freshly squeezed orange juice for a truly healthy (in moderation of course) cocktail. Not content? Choose fruits like kiwis (those furry little vitamin C jewels) if you want to maximise on health benefits and enjoy a tipple at the same time.

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