Ah, Sangria: Fun summer drink great start to light meal

After last week's photo shoot, we were left with a batch of gazpacho just begging to be eaten. So we made a pitcher of sangria and some of Tony's delicious marinated olives.

This sangria is a refreshing way to kick off a summer dinner party and pairs well with finger foods. Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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After last week's photo shoot, we were left with a batch of gazpacho just begging to be eaten. So we made a pitcher of sangria and some of Tony's delicious marinated olives.

The next day we set our patio table and enjoyed a delicious, light meal together, Spanish style.

Sangria is a wonderful mixture of wine, chopped fruit and a sweetener such as honey, syrup, sugar, juice or even grenadine, which adds a lovely rose tint to white wine sangria. Traditionally, a little brandy is also added, which, according to Tony, wakes it up a bit, just like lemon does when added to food. But, in a pinch, you could substitute Grand Marnier, Cointreau, bourbon or just go without.

We love to serve sangria at the beginning of a meal, especially when entertaining, and it's the perfect beverage to pair with finger foods. Sangria is a social drink - informal, easy to make, refreshing and pretty.

At Schmeckfest, our recent family reunion, Tony and I made a batch of both white and red sangria when it was our night to cook, and we discovered this summertime classic also pairs well with crazy, late-night card games.


Tony loves this drink and thinks sangria represents all the good things in life: love, beauty, friends, variety and fun. Usually a cheap date, on occasion Tony has been known to have two, maybe even three, glasses of sangria.

This is a playful drink, with a simple recipe and lots of room for creativity. Sangria should be prepared a day or two in advance, and can be made in large batches, which makes it perfect for entertaining. You don't need to use expensive wines when making sangria, as the other ingredients will help to bring out the best in most table wines

When we make sangria, we always include slices of orange and peach in our mixture, and then we'll throw in whatever other fruits are in season at that time. Berries, melon, pineapple, kiwi, apple, mango and papaya work well.

Chilling the drink for at least 24 hours before serving allows the wine to infuse with the various fruit flavors and the brandy, and Tony adds a splash of Sprite or 7-Up just before serving. We serve our sangria in a wine glass over ice, topped with pieces of the marinated fruit.

Marinated olives are great to nibble while sipping your sangria, and this no-cook recipe can be prepared in just minutes for your guests to enjoy.

You can use any mixture of olives, but Tony prefers to keep it simple with just two varieties: Manzanilla olives, a large, green, Spanish olives with a firm texture, slight almond flavor and smoky texture, and Greek Kalamata olives, which are black with a meaty texture and a smooth, rich, fruity flavor. To avoid any unplanned trips to the dentist, Tony recommends using pitted olives if you can find them.

We serve the olives at room temperature, which enhances the overall texture of this fruit.

Festive and colorful, this simple dish is always a hit with our guests. Place a bowl next to a pitcher of sangria, throw in some tunes from the Gipsy Kings, and you have the makings for a perfect summer party.


Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 8-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at . All previous recipes can be found at



1 bottle of red or white wine

1 orange, sliced into rounds

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

1 cup fresh strawberries, cut into quarters

1 cup fresh raspberries


1 apple, sliced

1 peach, sliced

1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) brandy

1.5 ounces triple sec, optional

6 ounces (¾ cup) Sprite or 7-Up

2 ounces (¼ cup) grenadine


Combine all ingredients, except the Sprite, in a vessel or pitcher and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Add the Sprite just before serving.

Serve in a wine glass or tumbler over ice, and top each serving with pieces of the marinated fruit.

Tony recommends using Albarino or Pinot grigio for the white wine, and Tempranillo or Chianti for the red.

Refrigerate for up to two to three days (it may become slightly bitter if left longer).

Tony's Marinated Olives


2 to 2½ cups mixed olives, pitted (Tony prefers Spanish Manzanilla and Greek Kalamata)

One pinch to a ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - ¼ teaspoon will be spicy

2 medium to large garlic cloves, chopped in 3 or 4 pieces each

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (just enough to coat the olives)

2 teaspoons champagne vinegar, white or red wine vinegar also work

1 heaping teaspoon of each parsley, mint and basil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Pour the olives into a medium-sized bowl. Put the remaining ingredients together in a glass measuring cup or small bowl and mix vigorously with a small whisk until the oil and vinegar have emulsified.

Taste the dressing and adjust seasonings as desired, keeping in mind that the olives will provide a good deal of salt to the mix. Pour the mixture over the olives and toss until they are evenly coated. Serve at room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate for up to one week (if they last that long) to store.

Tony's Tips

E While the olives can be enjoyed immediately, they will become even better if allowed to marinate for a couple hours before serving.

E For a quick and easy salad, add some extra-virgin olive oil to the leftover marinade and toss with fresh lettuce greens.

Tony's Marinated Olives are great to nibble while you sip on sangria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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