WINE O’CLOCK: A jug of red with your five a day
FEW of us return from a holiday in Spain without having shared at least one jug of sangria.
It’s not that the Spanish try to force it on their visitors. They rarely drink the stuff themselves and tend to treat it with the sort of amused contempt we reserve for green beer on St Patrick’s Day.
But, while it may be a bit touristy, there is something very pleasant about sitting by a Spanish marina, in the shade of a café awning, sipping the fruity concoction.
It’s hard to replicate that pleasure at home. We don’t have the weather for it and Irish bar tenders are uncertain how to make sangria and reluctant to give it the time required.
For home drinking some of us reach for the ready-mixed product on the supermarket shelves, which tastes nothing like the real thing.
In fact, it is easy to make good sangria. All you need is wine, a mixer, a spirit, fruit and ice. The trick is to get the ratio right. Go easy with the spirit – you are not trying to make a cocktail. And don’t go overboard with the fruit – you are aiming for a garnish not a fruit salad or your five a day.
I’ve seen it made with white wine and with cava, using peach snaps as the spirit. But the authentic product should be red. Sangre is the Spanish word for blood, so the clue is in the name.
Pick a decent red but don’t waste your money on anything from the top of the range. Something young and fruity, not too sweet and not aged or oaky
Lemonade is the favourite mixer. In Spain they often use a cloudy lemonade, such as Fanta Limon. Ginger beer or Fanta orange will also do the job.
Sherry, cherry brandy or red vermouth are the favourite spirits to add. But whatever you use, go easy. One-part mixer to three parts wine and one-part spirit to five parts wine are the recommended ratios. You need to experiment to find the blend that suits you – it’s a good excuse!
Orange and lemon slices are the most popular garnish but in Spain you may find cherries, peaches or strawberries in the mix. The Spanish, who have a sweet tooth, sometimes add sugar to this brew or marinate the fruit for a few hours in the spirit and sugar. I don’t recommend it.
The Spanish have no hesitation about adding soft drinks to red wine, If you ask for a ‘tinto de verano’ you will get red wine with orange or lemon soda, and ‘calimocho’ is a red wine with cola added.
The Portuguese also mix it up. They drink white Port with ice and soda. Don’t know what they call that – but I call it good.