All About Sangria
Most often thought of as a traditional wine punch of Spain and Portugal, Sangria has become popular around the world. First introduced in the United States at the 1964 New York World Fair, it found its footing as a refreshing and casual drink. Today, it is available in retail stores in a ready-to-drink style, and in bars and restaurants, usually as a proprietary blend. For the do-it-yourself type, there is a plethora of recipes available with variations limited only by one's imagination.
Its history purportedly dates back to 200 B.C. when the Romans conquered Spain. A positive outcome of their invasion was the vast planting of vineyards and the expansion of wine production. Spanish locals would later begin to add fruit to dilute the wine's alcohol and bitterness.
The basis of its name comes from the sangre - Spanish for blood in reference to its red color; white wine sangria is referred to as sangria blanca; in some regions of Spain, its given moniker is zurra.
Not limited to a set list of ingredients, wine - red or white - typically serves as the main ingredient and base to which fruit, sweetener and even spirits are added. Oranges, citrus fruit and apples are common but personal preference or geographical location may play a part in the variations. Peach and nectarine are popular in some parts of Spain; while cinnamon and brandy are classic ingredients in Portugal.
Sangria is deliciously versatile with food, beyond Spanish and Portuguese fare. It pairs well with a variety of appetizers and helps tame the heat of spicy food. A red-wine based Sangria can stand up to meat and pasta and a white Sangria nicely complements cheese and dessert.
Not exclusively a warm-weather sipper, try the addition of cinnamon and perhaps a spirit (like rum or brandy) to a hot, ready-to-serve Sangria to warm you from within!