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Published August 05, 2009, 12:00 AM

Halgrimson: Sangria packs a fruity punch

In one of her many authoritative books on Spanish cooking, Penelope Casas says: “Spaniards like their drinks simple. … The general rule is that wines, liquors, and liqueurs, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, should be pure and unadulterated.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

In one of her many authoritative books on Spanish cooking, Penelope Casas says: “Spaniards like their drinks simple. … The general rule is that wines, liquors, and liqueurs, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, should be pure and unadulterated.

“The most outstanding exception to this rule is sangria, a wonderfully refreshing summer drink that became immensely popular through advertising, then fell into disrepute because of bottling. It is distasteful to bottle sangria . …”

In Spanish, “sangre” means blood. However, the word sangria is nearer to the Spanish word “bleeding.” The name comes from the fact the wines used to make sangria are most often a deep red color.

While there is also a white wine sangria – sangria blanca – it is generally not found in Spain. But because white wines are more popular than red in this country, it is made here.

Sangria is basically a wine punch. It consists of wine, a shot or two of gin, brandy, orange liqueur or rum, a cup of ginger ale or club soda, some orange juice, lime juice or lemonade, a tablespoon or two of sugar and fresh fruit. The ingredients are stirred together and served over ice in a large wine glass. Add a spoon for wangling out the fruits.

The usual fruits are an orange and a thinly sliced lemon or lime. I cut the rounds in half for easier retrieval, but the citrus fruit may also be cut in wedges.

Other fruits that can be added to sangria are blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines and grapes. Cut the strawberries and grapes in half and the peaches and nectarines in thin wedges. My favorites are raspberries, nectarines and grapes.

Rioja is a region in Spain that has a long history of wine-making. Red, rosé and white wines are all made in this region. Four grape varieties are used in the red wine that comprises 80 percent of the output. Three are used for the white, which constitutes 10 percent of the production, and the remaining 10 percent is used for rosé. They are exceptional wines and are available locally as are other Spanish wines.

I used a fine red Rioja for my sangria, just as I use a good-quality wine for cooking. Sangria is best if it is poured after sitting for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

If you want to sample some sangria, you can taste it at the Silver Moon, 309 Roberts St. in Fargo. Bar manager Jen Maxwell mixes up a batch, and it is served on Thursday nights.

Sangria

1 bottle of dry, full-bodied red wine

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons orange liqueur (triple sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier)

1 tablespoon sugar

Orange and lemon slices

Nectarine wedges

1 cup club soda or sparkling water

In a large pitcher, mix all ingredients except club soda. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Add club soda and ice cubes and serve in balloon-shaped wineglasses.

Recipe adapted from “The Food and Wines of Spain” by Penelope Casas

Sangria Blanca

1 bottle dry white wine

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons orange liqueur (triple sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier)

Orange and lemon slices

Apple or peach wedges

1 cup club soda or sparkling water

In a large pitcher, mix all ingredients except club soda. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add club soda and ice cubes and serve.

Recipe adapted from “The Food and Wines of Spain” by Penelope Casas

Sources: “The Food and Wines of Spain” by Penelope Casas; www.wineintro.com/types/rioja.html; www.ehow.com/about_4569986_history-of-sangria.html; http://wine.about.com/od/howwineismade/a/sangriaessentia.htm

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